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World Youth Day - Day 2 Aix-en-Provence Marseilles

9 August 2011

Good weather – about 24 degrees. French cuisine continues to surprise the boys. Coke is purchased by some but no cereal and no fruit this morning. Tishan says the croissants are delightful but those with a half of a baguette didn’t fill most of the boys. However lunch made up for it, but I am jumping ahead. We took a quick bus trip into the centre of Aix-en-Provence today and were given 10 minutes of free time. The art boys found a life size figure of Cezanne and Adrian, Angus and Carlos were photographed with him. Our guides came and our understanding of the culture and history increased. Our own Oblate guide, a well-known Fr Frank Santucci OMI turned out to be brilliant. Very passionate about our founder St Eugene. He was also a great communicator. We came to St Eugene’s birth place and Fr Frank painted a picture that took us back to revolutionary France, complete with St Eugene’s acquaintances being hung across the road on which we were standing on and a bankrupt Father fleeing for his life. Key experiences were outlined as we walked in and out of narrow streets avoiding early morning traffic. Bargain hunters came across a market and we were let loose. Some souvenirs, delicious fruit and pastries were sampled. Our tour continued to lunch where we were given a brilliant meal from the Oblate Community House – pate, tuna mornay for an entrée and steak, potato and tomatoes followed by a small French desert of “floating island” which was a soft meringue floating on custard. This took place in a shady, ancient courtyard in which the first Community of Oblates lived and worked.

We boarded the bus and visited France’s second city of Marseilles. Again Fr Frank brought the streets alight with a passionate Fr Eugene, now bishop, catering for all in needed from the fishwives to the prostitutes, selling the silver wear to support the deaf and the blind. The highlight was a Mass around the tomb of St Eugene in a side altar of the massive Cathedral. We were invited to catch the spirit of St Eugene and sense his presence by laying our hands on the tomb. Back to Aix-en-Provence, the day ended with the majority of students going for an evening walk and ice cream around Aix.

Sidelights “I’m in love with croissants” Tishan

Do I look at the Church of de Madeleine or do I look at the Porsche? More than this entered the boys minds as Fr Frank competed with the appearance of a Porsche during his talks.

Lines of little Vespers were also attractive to the boys.

Angus scars are continuing to improve.

Boys got plenty of exercise helping a young French couple push their broken down car in yet another courtyard.

Andrew Aiello snapping up a number of bargains at the markets – a lucky someone back home.

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