In the footsteps of Titus

On the third day of the International Conference for Carmelite Students, the pilgrims* were made to experience the places that the Blessed Titus Brandsma considered as his home, where he was considered as a son of the place.

First stop was Megen. In the Franciscan town of Megen, Titus first tasted the life of a religious when he entered the Franciscan seminary at the age of 11. Together with his brother Hendrik, they stayed in the house of the ladies Remmen, where most of the children of well-to-do farmers at the time where made to live as students of the seminary.

At the time of our visit, the Franciscans of this medieval town (which, we were told has never changed since the middle ages) were celebrating the memorial of one of its holy brother,

Also in Megen, the sister of Bl. Titus, Boukje Brandsma, entered the monastery of the poor Clare nuns taking the name of Sr. Mary.
After Megen, the group visited Oss, where Titus spent a substantial amount of time, and where he had etched a meaningful legacy, prompting the city to recognize him as an honorary citizen in 2015.

You see, when Titus was in Oss, he contributed a lot to the society, even starting a school seeing the need of the children of poor farmers wanting to have better education.

And that is just one of them, during his long stay in Oss, he also started a magazine called Carmelrozen, founded a public library recived a local newspaper called De Stad Oss, and a lot more.
But perhaps, the most memorable part of the pilgrimage was the visit to the very ancient Carmelite community in Boxmeer where, according to the former Prior General of the Order, Fr. Falco Thuis, Titus started his journey in Carmel as a novice. 

We ate at the refectory where Titus might have eaten and read Holy Scriptures to the brothers.

The place is serene, ancient, and full of treasures that is beyond material things.

The refectory holds beautiful paintings telling of the Carmelite vocation. but perhaps the most prominent would be the painting of the crucified Christ by famous Flemish painter Anthony van Dyke.

And noticeable also were the stained glass windows of the convent that tells of stories of ancient Carmelites, both legendary and real. Titus, in fact, were inspired by these windows that he wrote articles and books on these holy people. 

At the St. Peter Minor Basilica is the relic of the Holy Blood, the devotion to which dates back to 1400. The story goes that a priest doubted the transformation of the host and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and so, during consecration the chalice overflowed with blood, leaving traces of it on the corporal which is now being venerated in the Church.
And then there is the Dutch Carmelite Institute that holds more than a thousand ancient manuscripts written by Carmelites or about the Carmelites, this includes an original of the Book of the First Monks

The Institute houses the works of Titus as well, as well as some of his belongings, especially those which he brought to prison and was returned intact by the Nazis after his death. It also houses a jar of ashes that came from the camp in Dachau. 

*Taking from the homily of Fr. Falco Thuis, former prior general of the Order, which referred to the activity as a pilgrimage.


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