here Miracles Happen by Virginia Carraway Stark
Lejac British Columbia is now a way station between two very small towns,
Picture of Rose’s Grave during the annual pilgrimage in July
Fraser Lake and Fort Fraser B.C., two towns along the infamous Highway of Tears. Rose Prince was a student at the residential school that used to stand in the field that is now empty of everything except for a graveyard, a shrine and once a year, thousands of people who come from around the world to witness the miracle that takes place outside my front door.
Father Vince James did not initiate the pilgrimages that began with a handful who wanted to come and remember their time with Rose, but he toiled over it and every year he prays for a miracle that will allow him to continue with the arduous job of planning out a gathering of so many people.
The Church and the Indigenous community work hard to feed all the pilgrims who come free of charge and provide the hillside as well as their own homes
Father Vince James OMI
for any and all who come to experience the peace and grace and the healing power of this place.
What makes the miracle happen?
Well, that’s all down to Rose. Rose lived an ordinary life. She was a quiet girl who suffered from a hunch in her back and was never physically very strong. She devoted her life to the church and died at a young age in 1949 of tuberculosis. She was buried in the cemetery and nobody really knew how special she was until two years later when the graveyard was being moved to a different location.
Rose’s coffin broke open when they tried to move it and inside they found a perfectly preserved body with even her clothes untouched by any rot.
Bodily incorruptibility is accepted by the Catholic Church as a sign from God of a life of great holiness. This is based off of scripture, “You will not allow your holy one to experience decay” -Acts 13:35
But it is also based off of historical research and avid documentation by the church. Since it’s inception there have only been about 200 cases where the body was preserved in such a way. Just to be clear: this is NOT mummification. The body is not desiccated, it is pristine and looks as though the person could still be alive.
They are sometimes described as being slightly translucent and that is the only thing that distinguishes them from the living.
After people started coming to the pilgrimage the pilgrims started to talk about the miracles they experienced. People’s pain went away, chronic diseases were cured, soon more and more people came, many of them bringing sick or dying friends in the hope that they too would experience a miracle.
People bring oil and water to be blessed during a ceremony at the site and they collect dirt from Rose’s grave to take home with them each year.
The church is still gathering evidence to make Rose a saint. It is an extensive procedure and is not undertaken lightly. Father James is tireless in his protection of the site and in his endless support of Rose.
I myself have attended the pilgrimage for several years and I was also a kind of caretaker for the site as well. I can say that it is one of the special places on this planet and the second weekend of July is even more special.
You can contact Father Vince James OMI at St. Andrews Parish, Box 580, Fraser Lake, B.C. V0J 1S0