We share this chronicle on the peregrination made to Gannes by a group of members of the Vincentian Family of The Netherlands:
There he stood, at the middle of the road, when I descended the bus near the church of Gannes, a little village, somewhat above Paris, France. It is a meaningful village in the life of Vincent the Paul and it became a meaningful village for me.
There, in 1617, Vincent had a conversation with a man, a miller, who stood before his death. According to the traditions, a good and respected man and yet full of fear for his coming death. The talk between Vincent and the miller appeared to be liberating; for both of them. The miller found a good way towards death and Vincent found a good way towards life. Both liberated, both somewhat enlightened in the literal sense of the word and maybe also in the figurative sense of the word.,
In that meaningful village stands Michel Sorel, the host of the church, waiting for us with arms wide open. A thinny sixtier whose hospitality fills the whole street.
Both front doors of the church, above a few stony steps, are wide open. Light of the many lit candles and church lamps flows towards us. The modest village church is ornamented with meters long wide ribbons, carefully chosen in the colours of the jubilee logo of 400 years Vincentian Charism. Generously Michel tells about his church and about the old and youngest events that happened there. Especially for this occasion postcards are being sold to finance maintenance of the building and jubilee activities.
Full of proud and awareness he declares how important and historical this spot is. After less than half an hour we had to leave for Paris. A spontaneous hug and with a heart full of warmth and the light of the candles still glowing, the bus turns around the corner, Michel alone waving us goodbye.
And I am touched that I was allowed to experience so much light and warmth through this man. Vincent still lives in Gannes.
Marieke van de Ven,
Vincent de Paul Center Nederland