Thursday, April 30, 2015

A statuette of the Madonna placed between three branches of an elm - A Moment with Mary

-- A Moment with Mary --
Une Minute avec Marie
An initiative of the Association Mary of Nazareth 

April 30 – Our Lady of Africa (Algiers, Algeria, 1876) - Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo  

A statuette of the Madonna placed between three branches of an elm 


When Louis Pavy was named bishop of Algiers, Algeria, in 1846, both Miss Berger and Miss Cinquin, who had served him since he was an assistant parish priest in Lyons, France, asked for permission to follow him to Africa. The two women worked in the minor seminary opened by the new prelate after his arrival in Algiers, one as a nurse and the other as a seamstress.

There was a dirt path just outside the seminary leading down to the sea through a narrow ravine where, under abundant vegetation, flowed a stream. Between three branches of an elm, with a canopy of ivy, the women put a small statue of the Madonna, a replica of the one venerated in the Fourvière chapel in Lyons. They often went there to pray.

Sometime later, giving in to their respectful insistence, Bishop Pavy built a grotto for them made of rocks and seashells to house "Our Lady of the Ravine," and he solemnly inaugurated the modest oratory.

The little shrine became a place of pilgrimage, decorated with candles and votive offerings, military medals, and crutches, left by the people in gratitude to the Virgin. It stayed pretty much the same after the great Basilica of Our Lady of Africa was built above it. This basilica was recently renovated and still stands as a protective presence for Algiers and Algeria.