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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I write songs, I sing them... I play the piano and a little bit of the guitar.. I've released 5 albums of music, I love the scent of freshly fallen rain and the scent of lavender on bedsheets. I would drink tea all day long if the caffeine didn't keep me up at night. I hate driving in L.A traffic. I would love to one day catch the squirrel that steals the plums from my tree and make him a pet. I don't watch TV anymore. My 3 year old daughter is more entertaining than any TV show could ever be :)

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

France - Visiting the hometown of St. Therese of Lisieux

Recount of a trip taken on 10th Feb. 2008 to Lisieux, France


Woke up a little later than planned because Kavin's alarm clock was set to 8.15 PM instead of AM. Ah well, we still managed to get to Les Buissonets (St. Thérése's childhood home) on time around 10 a.m

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A senior lady with friendly grandmother glasses, a kind smile and short hair opened the door. We were the first visitors there that day. Her badge said 'Sister Vivienne' and after a bit of us trying to understand her French and her trying to understand our English, we realised that she was telling us to wait for the pre-recorded audio guide/cassette to start us on our tour through the house. We stood in the living room of St. Thérése's childhood home. In front of us, the fireplace where would look forward to filled stockings on Christmas. Also on the wall in the room was a painting of Les Buissonnets by Thérése's older sister Celine and behind a plastic, see-through barrier was the dining room where the family had their meals. I could almost picture the kids, excited on Christmas day, and the family sitting down to dinner.

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Next, we went upstairs. There on a wall, was a picture of St. Thérése's parents and on the opposite wall, on a chest of drawers, was a copy of the statue of Mary that overlooked Thérése as she lay sick in bed.

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We were then ushered into a 3rd room which displayed an exhibition of Thérése's belongings, her first communion dress, another dress she wore for special occasions, her toys, her tea-set, her mini- stove toy kitchen with its small pots and pans, her puzzle bricks, books, the cross of Christ which she prayed in front of for the criminal Pendanzi (?) I wish I'd checked to see if her rosary was there. There was also a cage there with a toy bird and perhaps, a music, accordion-like keyboard somewhere, I think. Somehow those two items caught my eye, as I wondered if Thérése sang, or liked music. I liked the mini-stove set too. Very cute. Can imagine her playing that with her sisters.

Therese's play stove DSC07953

Therese's first holy communion dress DSC07957

There was also a bookshop in the same room, but most of the books were in French. So after Les Buissonnets, we made our way to St. Pierre Cathedral, or rather, in English, St. Peter's Cathedral for the 11 a.m mass. When we got there, the bells were already ringing away in the bell tower, calling people to mass.

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It was nice to attend mass at the same parish as St. Thérése had attended as a child, with her family and her dad. The parishioners were mostly from the area, and there were many kids and families in the congregation. So despite the frigid conditions in the church, there was the warmth there of something familiar that the parishioners, in their community parish brought with them.

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Good thing I had checked up on the readings for the day beforehand, since everything was being read in French. The readings of the day were about Adam and Eve's fall and the gospel was about Jesus's temptation by Satan in the desert. Where Adam and Eve failed to resist temptation and thus fell, Jesus resisted temptation and was obedient to His Father's will.

After mass, we quickly walked around, following a leaflet that listed the various places to see within the church that related to St. Thérése's life. Places like the wooden confessional where Thérése received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the marble altar that St. Thérése's father had donated to the church. He was a watchmaker and a jeweller, and was presumably quite well-to-do.

Confessional box where Therese made her first confession. IMG_6587

We also saw the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary where Thérése attended mass during the week. It had a lovely altar with Our Lady’s image and the Blessed Sacrament was present within the tabernacle. We also saw the small chapel that Thérése’s family had rented for Sunday mass and a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that Thérése’s sister Pauline used to pray in front of, seeking Mary’s help in discerning her vocation. the small chapel that Thérése’s family had rented for Sunday mass

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a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that Thérése’s sister Pauline used to pray in front of
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After this, we headed across the street to have lunch at Le Patio, where I had a lamb dish and Kavin had an omellette, a sandwich and a cup of coffee. The coffee tasted good. Then we headed to the Basilica of St. Therese.

It was a beautiful day, clear blue skies. We went first to the crypt. It had beautiful mosaic tiles all over the ceiling with images from Therese’s life, from her childhood to her death. There were also little chapels dedicated to her favourite saints and at the very front of the crypt, above the altar, was a statue of St. Therese above the tabernacle. Off to one side, the Child Jesus smiled over a side altar.

The basilique
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The crypt
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Mosaic of St. Therese at the main crypt altar
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Mosaic commemorating Therese's entrance to Carmel.
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Altar with the child Jesus above the tabernacle.
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At the back of the church, an exhibit had been laid out, with pictures from Therese’s life in Carmel (unfortunately, Carmel convent was closed for renovations and we could see the convent where she had spent most of her time as a nun) and pictures of her family. There was even a photo there where Therese had dressed herself as St. Joan of Arc! I thought that was so cute, the future saint dressed as a saint that she herself had admired. A future saint, dressed as a saint, a warrior-in-making in her own way. I wonder if there is a section in her book where she talks about dressing up as Joan of Arc. I think she does.

St. Therese dressed as St. Joan of Arc
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Looking at her family tree, it was also interesting to note that her sisters had lived quite long lives as opposed to Therese’s 24 years. Kavin pointed out that two of her sisters had lived to see both world wars. We went upstairs after this to the basilique itself. It’s a huge and very beautiful church. Orange-red mosaic tiles all over added a warmth, a passion, an almost child-like love of colour within the church. It’s the most colourful church I’ve seen in France, apart from the Notre Dame de Fourvière in Lyon. The dome was so big, Kavin was pretty awe-struck too. The stained glass windows had some words on them. I assume they were St. Therese’s words. On the arc of the dome, there were mosaics of flowers and also a mosaic featuring a single rose. I loved the main altar, showing Our Lady on the left and Therese on the right, the resurrected Christ in the middle and the little lambs (so cute) below.

The huge dome of the basilica, from within.
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Top of the dome, showing St. Therese being receiving her just reward
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Mosaic at the front of the main altar.
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View of the back of the church.
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But the best part of the church was the right main chapel, where a reliquary held the bones of St. Therese’s right arm, the arm with which she wrote her ‘Story Of A Soul’. It was moving to see these right arm bones of St. Therese, for here, laid the physical relics of the saint I’ve been so inspired by. Here lay the physical framework and strength from which she wrote her story. Here was the physical part of her that she had asked Mary to guide, for, in her own words, “Before taking my pen in hand, I knelt before the statue of Mary and I begged her to guide my hand so that I might not write a single line that would not be pleasing to her.”. This was the part of her, offered up to God, that now lay in this reliquary.

The side chapel
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St. Therese's right arm bone lays in the reliquary
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I look upon St. Therese as an older sister of sorts, as a role model. God used her through her story, her words, her simple loving ways and her wisdom. This humble Therese, who in life, never knew the recognition that came with the spread of her story after her death, was not concerned with fame or fortune. All she wanted to do was to love Him as best as she could and to get to Heaven where she hoped she would be able to spend her time in Heaven doing good on earth. She wanted to quench the Lord’s thirst for souls. This thread of humility, of being unrecognized here on earth, seems to be a common thread in the saints I’ve come across on this trip to France, for St. Catherine Laboure was also unknown and kept Our Lady’s visits to her a secret for so many years.

Anyway, I knelt in front of the reliquary and asked the saint’s help in my own writing, my music and ministry. I hope that she will guide me to writing, singing and making music that pleases Him. I hope to do with my left arm and hand what she did with her right, ie. to always write what is pleasing to Him, no more, no less.

Kavin and I walked outside the basilica after this and saw the place behind the church where Therese’s parents were buried. Above their tombstones was a statue of St. Therese and behind her stood the majestic church named for her. God truly sought to raise his little flower. What a wonderful testimony to His providence, that He had chosen to honour his little saint with a church to her name and to make her a tree of comfort for all who learn about her ‘little way’. The littlest, the least has truly been raised up high. The speed at which she attained sainthood seems unmatched. Even St. Joan of Arc, matyred in the 1400’s was only declared a saint 500 years after her death. In contrast, St. Therese was declared a saint less than 50 years after her death.

After the visit to the Basilica, we drove back towards Paris, with the intention to stop by at Versailles along the way. The little Opel Corsa we had rented packed quite a punch, remaining steady on the road even at 150 km/hr. Pretty cool car.

So we got to Versailles a little after 5 p.m Kavin was excited to see the buildings that he had initially seen ‘virtually’ in his computer game. We took some photos in the huge Jardins (gardens) and in front of the buildings, then headed back to Paris, returning the car at the Hertz carpark on Rue du Maine, then walking back to check into a new room at the Hotel Des Academy des Arts.

At Versailles
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Kavin tries to be a tree at the Jardin.
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Then we headed to Sapporo for ramen. Mmmmmm… Along the way, we heard some wonderful music from a busker in the subway who was playing his violin. Absolutely gorgeous.
I've posted a short video clip here :


More photos of Lisieux are here

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi,corrinne.i am so envious of you,haha!because you could travel everywhere all over the world.and i still listen to your album every night,especially your single ON THE SIDE OF ME.It inspires me much.---GANSHIYANG

Thursday, September 25, 2008 3:30:00 AM  
Blogger denj said...

hi..
i dont know what i say to you.
i'd heard your song which is "five loaves and two fishes. right?.

i love it!..that why im search you
to say that!..

i hope you read this..

thanks!..

God Bless..

Saturday, October 04, 2008 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Adorra The Explorer! said...

beautiful photos there Corrinne. I am so envious~ how I wish to explore these beautiful places, really.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008 10:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Corrinne This is the very best tour I've seen !!! Terrific, Kudos to you, you're not only a great artist but also a very talented photojournalist.... I grew up in Havana, Cuba learning and loving Saint Therese to a point I don't know where to begin, I'm so fond of her, her faith in God and her values, that I'm so impressed when I come across people like you, I hope to make the trip one day to Lisieux as well.. May God & Saint Therese be always with you and your loved ones, Oh and help you big time with your career,,,Kudos, Eduardo.

Sunday, December 14, 2008 6:47:00 AM  
Anonymous kendav38 said...

I love you Corrinne. May God continue to bless you throughout 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008 7:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad to hear that u have a little baby in you belly.haha.I think that you should care much about your health now.and your fans are also expecting to see your little lovely baby.――GanShiYang

Friday, December 26, 2008 5:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey corrinne, keep up the good work in producing music :) Nice pictures there too :D

Saturday, December 27, 2008 8:46:00 AM  
Blogger juice parade said...

hey Corrinne! I dun really know where to put this so..i'm just gonna ask here anyways. Do you happen to want to release your chords? specifically for "save me"? I love that song so much! preferably for free though.. =p

Sunday, January 18, 2009 1:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Dian said...

Hey Corrine... random passer-by here. Just wanna say I love your songs (I'm listening to Scars right now). I love the type of music you make (I adore Josh Groban!).

xoxo

Friday, February 27, 2009 5:28:00 PM  
Blogger Kelvin Tan said...

Hi Corrinne.
You must be taking a nice long break at the moment.
Please post your baby's pics when due okay? (And post a blog entry on it).

Saturday, April 04, 2009 8:23:00 AM  
Blogger T.H said...

Love your music.
Its different than anything i have ever heard. Your music is just really special!

Sunday, April 05, 2009 3:23:00 AM  
Blogger MARLENE said...

I didn't know who you were nor your name. I came across a beautiful song on a CD compilation which I promptly uploaded onto my iPod under the heading of "gospel".

Years later or to be exact, a few days ago, I went through the songs in the long forgotten folder and listened to this amazing song called The Answer for the very first time. This is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. The words are so inspiring and touching, just what I needed at this time.

You have an exquisite voice and the piano accompaniment is delightful. God Bless.

Sunday, February 21, 2010 5:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Monika said...

Hello, just want to say it's wonderful to see your simple and strong faith in Christ. And of course, its nice to see someone who adores Therese too. May she smile and continue to send heavenly roses as she promised us :)God bless :)
- your sister in Christ

Saturday, April 17, 2010 6:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Corrinne, I am Malaysian studying in Singapore.. When you release your new album? i am so eager for your music and songs, they are so so so nice! =)Take care and God bless...


Rebecca

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 7:10:00 PM  
Anonymous jiaxuan said...

you have inspired me with your national day song:)i hope to be a sussesful singer like you!:)

Friday, July 16, 2010 6:30:00 AM  

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