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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Exclusive Representation of the Nativity Scene.
In the month of May 1856, a small merchant ship was setting sail and leaving the port of Marseille, bound for China and the seas of Japan.
Until the last moment, a boat had remained close to the ship; it carried a young midshipman, brand new to the crew, and his mother who was saying a long farewell.
When the young man, tearing himself away from his mother’s arms, had climbed onto the deck of the ship, he leaned towards the boat and blew a last kiss. His mother, then, seizing a bouquet which they had gathered together the day before to place on the altar of Mary, threw it to him, saying amidst her tears:
“Here, my friend, it is the farewell of the Blessed Virgin; I went to ask it of Her this morning as a pledge that you would return to me, keep it, She will not abandon you.”
And the cold and stormy sea separated the two ships, the two hearts.
Days and nights, calms and storms, passed slowly over the young sailor’s head. The bouquet, each dried leaf of which had been piously collected, the bouquet rested in a cassette between the portrait of his mother and a small blessed crucifix. Every evening, when the crew rested, a visit was made to the memory of his two Mothers. A prayer, a tear, would console the traveler, and he would fall asleep, rocked by the waves, quiet as before in his cradle.
The voyage was long and hard; the child became a man; the novice became a sailor; the midshipman became a lieutenant.
Two years later (still in the month of May), a good lady kneeling in a corner, in the chapel of Notre-Dame de la Garde, presented to the Blessed Virgin a small branch detached from a rosebush, all dried up and blackened by time.
She heard a mass said for her. When the Holy Sacrifice was over, she got up, staggering (for she had grown old, the poor mother), and approached the altar to place her little withered branch.
At the same moment, a sunburned hand reached out beside hers and placed a withered bouquet next to the branch, too, and a voice quickly recognized said in her ear:
“Mother! this is our pledge….”
Behind her son were twelve sailors (his crew) bringing as an ex-voto a cute little ship, with these words, inscribed on the main sail:
To Mary, Star of the Sea,
the crew of the Bouquet, saved from a typhoon
IN THE SUNDA ARCHIPELAGO.
The Blessed Virgin had not let Her Bouquet perish.
One never perishes when one is faithful to Her memory.
J. B. d’Auriac, Le Courrier de la Jeunesse