3: Mystical France

Mary Magdalene by Jan Van Scorel. Public Domain.

“But a thought comes into my mind: "Why did God give this light to a child who, if she had understood it, would have died of grief?" "Why?" Here is one of those incomprehensible mysteries which we shall only understand in Heaven, where they will be the subject of our eternal admiration. My God, how good Thou art! How well dost Thou suit the trial to our strength!”[1]

Why did Magdalene appear to me in a dream? The context is significant. Over the previous four years, I had written devotionally about my love for the French heroines St. Joan of Arc and St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I learned that Magdalene journeyed to Provence after persecution broke out in Jerusalem. She lived her final thirty years as a hermit in a cave at La Sainte-Baume. The Lord's great commission tied St. Mary Magdalene to France. As the "apostle to the apostles," the saint who spent time at Jesus’ feet, at the foot of the Cross, and at the tomb of the resurrection, she brought the apostolic faith to the shores of what later would be called France. This connection was the first mystical pairing of France to the Kingdom of God.  Four centuries passed, and the Burgundian Queen St. Clotilda founded Christendom through the conversion of her husband, King Clovis, the first Catholic King of the Franks. Almost one thousand years later, St. Joan of Arc reinforced the foundation of Mystical France by declaring to Charles VII that Jesus was the King of France and he, Charles, was Our Lord's Lieutenant. King Louis XIII and Queen Anne consecrated France to the Blessed Virgin two hundred years after Joan's martyrdom. Over two hundred years later, St. Thérèse blessed France as the greatest saint in modern times. France has a mystical relationship with Heaven, and Magdalene's presence in Provence is the inception of that mysticism.

Mystical France

Mystical France, she lifts my heart
Her spirit holds me by the hands
Of saintly sisters honored, who
Attend and guide me to their land

Mystical France, the Kingdom of
Our Lord and Queen who reign above
And here is where by Joan of Arc
Heaven kissed earth through fire and love

Here too, is where, since La Pucelle
Through Holy Spirit joyful, blessed
With earth enriched, now sweetly fresh
He cultivated Saint Thérèse

Mystical France, I love your saints
They hold us both, to us impart
Kinship and joy that renders you
The sanctuary of my heart

[1] Thérèse, The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. p. 46