Is-Sibt 21 ta’ Settembru 2018: Ix-xhieda ta’ parroċċa żgħira u mwarrba fil-villaġġ ta’ Bargemon fi Franza li laqqgħet fi ħdanha 42 refuġjat nisrani mill-Iraq, b’mod dawn bdew mill-ewwel jieħdu sehem fil-quddies u fi ftit żmien saru parti integrali mill-komunità. Xhieda tassew awtentika tal-messaġġ nisrani. Kompli aqra …
The village of Bargemon (France) is one of two places of apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Provence. It was an important pilgrimage site until the French Revolution, when the spirit of militant secularism forced it to close.
But today the shrine is regaining its past popularity, since a new priest came to Bargemon six years ago, giving a place of honor back to the Virgin Mary. Since then, pilgrims have flocked and a community of 42 Christian refugees from Iraq is now actively participating in the renewal!
The priest of Bargemon, Father Philippe-Marie Métais Fontenel, shared his story:
“I had asked the bishop for a remote parish that nobody wanted. He immediately thought of Bargemon! When I arrived here, I discovered that this village had been an important international Marian shrine in the 17th and 18th centuries. Pilgrims used to come here by the thousands, but no one seemed to know about it!
I prayed to the Virgin Mary, and little by little I felt that she wanted the shrine to be revived. During the time that the shrine was brought back to life, a remark of Pope Francis, full of indignation, touched me very much. He said that he did not understand how so many church buildings remain empty, and asked that the poor be given a place to stay there. With my comfortable 9700 sq. ft. rectory, I felt the pope was especially speaking to me!
I gathered about 30 volunteers and we prepared to welcome Christian refugees from Iraq. We placed our trust on the Word of God: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and what is right, and all the rest you will be given.” To fund this project, we didn’t ask for a penny from the parish or request any subsidy. Without asking for anything, we actually received €500,000 in three years!
As soon as they arrived, the refugees were included in the parish community. They immediately began to attend Mass and participate in the parish activities.
The Virgin Mary wants to make of this village a new oasis of Christian life. For this, we must put charity back in the center. The Iraqis went to work—with some of our residents—they are now running free stores we’ve opened: a grocery store, and a furniture and clothing donation center. The poor from our three-church parish flock here!”