Paray-le-Monial a little village in the eastern part of France, has become noted in recent times as the seat of a sacred shrine dedicated to a virgin who is reputed to have led a most exemplary life, and was canonized in 1864. All manner of miracles are reputed to have been wrought at the shrine of Paray-le- Monial, and so general became the enthusiasm over these wonderful (!) reports that pilgrimages were regularly organized not only in France, where the checkered fate of the last war would naturally turn the lower classes to superstitious veneration and faith in the miraculous intervention of departed saints, but also in Belgium, and in Protestant England and America. In 1873 pilgrims from all points of the compass flocked to Parav- le-Monial. Of course the English and American pilgrims attracted special attention, for it was supposed that in neither of these countries could any superstitious veneration be fostered and quickened. The general supposition of Protestants, and all who disbelieve ecclesiastical miracles (q.v.), is that the Ultramontanes are seeking to unite the lower classes of all countries under the papal banner, and, by awakening in them a sympathy for the Romish cause, to undermine the opposition which has developed against Jesuitism and Ultramontanism at the different European centers of influence. Inasmuch as the Jesuits and Ultramontanes generally have encouraged the people in these pilgrimages, the supposition seems reasonable.
In the article MARIE A LA COQUE we have already given the personal history of this remarkable Romish saint. It remains to be added here that the Romanists of Paray-le-Monial claim to possess her bones, and that over them stands the altar erected to her memory. A correspondent of the New York Tribune, who was an eyewitness, in September, 1873, of the arrival and reception of a great body of English pilgrims — a motley throng of men and women — priests and laymen, old and young, rich and poor — thus describes the saint's remains and their costly shrine:
"She lies stretched upon an altar in the splendid chapel which her devotees have endowed. When the bones already referred to were gathered up from the grave in which they had lain for two hundred years, they were committed to the charge of a cunning artificer, who reverently connected them as far as they would go with gold wire. Head, feet, and hands were formed out of wax and attached to the bones, and the body was wrapped up in wadding, with an outward covering of cloth of gold, and laid upon a magnificent marble altar enclosed in a rich case of bronze-dore, and studded with precious stones. The eyes of the wax figure, which are made of enamel, are half open. With its right hand it presses upon its breast a burning heart of pure gold, and in its left hand it holds a branch of silver lilies. The chapel itself is almost oppressive from the richness of its decoration. The walls are hidden behind the pictures and the banners which the faithful have deposited there. The vault is of azure, studded with stars of gold. The pavement of the church is of marble, while that of the sanctuary is set with stones in imitation of carpet-patterns. Before the wax figure burn constantly, day and night, sixteen golden lamps set with precious stones. One of the lamps burns for the preservation of the faith in Belgium, another for the conversion of England, a third represents the Order of the Sacred Heart, and the rest are severally devoted to similar 'intentions.' After this week the number of lamps will be increased by one, which the English pilgrims have brought with them, and for the endowment of which a sum of money has been invested. As things go, it takes a capital sum of forty pounds to endow a lamp with oil in perpetuity."