It was a rainy Sunday morning in Paris. I decided to wake up early to take the subway into
the heart of the city from where we were staying near Montmartre. There’s nothing like Paris in the rain. It was a bit cool and damp, but that didn’t dampen my excitement to attend Mass at the Cathedral de Notre Dame. The service was completely in French. I’m sure most of the worshipers were tourists, but that still didn’t tame my enthusiasm for praising God in such a place.
As I heard the beautiful cadence of the French priest saying Mass (I couldn’t make out a word by the way), I couldn’t help but imagining people of faith flocking to this very place since the late 12th century. What were they wearing? What were they thinking as their horse and carriage pulled up to this magnificent cathedral?
Following Mass, I had some extra time before I was to meet Candace for breakfast, so I took another tour of the cathedral. As I was walking around peering into each little nook and cranny of side chapels and candles, I noticed a familiar name on the wall. It read “Chapelle Saint-Landry.” I was immediately drawn to this place. Why was my family name in Notre Dame? Was a connection with my family? I was puzzled by this small chapel in this grand place of worship.
I later found out that this chapel was named for Saint Landry, Bishop of Paris. He was the Bishop of Paris from 650 to 661 AD. There are a few stories told of this saint, but not many specific historical references. It is believed that during a famine in 651, Bishop Landry sold all that he owned to feed the poor. Not only did he sell his personal items, it is believed that he sold some church furniture and items as well. I’m sure that pleased the Trustees Committee of Notre Dame.
Landry also established a hospital near the Cathedral de Notre Dame. He also helped establish a Benedictine monastery during his time as Bishop. Landry served as the Bishop until his death in 661. After I returned from Paris, I continued some research on this unknown saint. I found his life just as interesting as his name. A quick google search found a parish in Louisiana named after Saint Landry. In this parish there’s a Catholic Church whose patron is St Landry. After some email correspondence with the priest and a historian of the St Landry Catholic Church, I eventually received a small prayer card with some information on Saint Landry. They were very kind to share with me what they had already discovered about the saint.
The prayer on the card read:
God of tenderness, you received the communion of Bishop Saint Landry as a token of your special love for the poor; let us follow his example by sharing with our brothers (and sisters) that which we have received from your goodness. Amen.
Maybe Saint Landry isn’t directly related to me (as far as I know), but I’m glad I discovered his life and spirit as I walked around Notre Dame that day. I greatly appreciate the prayer that calls us to follow his example by sharing with the poor what we have. I may not have understood much during that French Mass, but the life of Saint Landry was something that has stuck with me ever since. May we follow the example of Saint Landry, the Bishop of Paris, who gave up much for the sake of his call. Saint Landry, pray for us.