How to say "sign" in French + 8 things you can't do in Lourdes, France

How do you say "baptism" in French? A Holy moment in Lourdes, France

Bapteme in Lourdes France
Woman in cart waiting to collect curative water at Lourdes

Many thanks to those who are translating the word of the day into other languages -- over at the new comments section! The latest translation, of yesterday's word "pancarte," is in Danish (thank you, Jens!). You'll find translations in Tagalog, Dutch, Pig Latin... and more. See the comments section at the blog and thank you for sharing your own language savoir-faire.

PS: That's right - "yesterday's word". The website was updated yesterday, though no newsletter went out. See the right-hand column to find the last five French words.

baptême (baah-tem) noun, masculine
    : baptism

French definition:
Baptême: un mot grec [baptizein] qui signifie immersion.
Baptism: a Greek word [baptizein] that signifies immersion.

A bit of background on today's story:

"The sacred grotto at Massabieille, near the town of Lourdes in southern France, appeals to Catholics as does no other place. This is the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, the place where Mary appeared to a humble peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 and spoke words of comfort and simple faith. At Mary's behest, Bernadette dug in the rocky soil of the grotto and struck water. A puddle soon became a spring that gushed forth waters that were recognized to have documented healing properties, baffling physicians and scientific experts. Some six million pilgrims visit Lourdes each year, making it the most popular place of pilgrimage in the world."

--from the book: Lourdes Diary: Seven Days at the Grotto of Massabieille

Entering the holy quarter of Lourdes, I paused to recall the pancarte* by which I had just passed.... Had it shown cameras as prohibited? Looking around, I tried to discern whether other visitors had appareils*... The woman in the wheelchair didn't. Neither did the man on crutches....

Petit à petit,* I began to notice the pilgrims around me, who entered the commune via various modes of transportation: on foot, on crutch, on a loved one's arm (or cradled there, protectively). There were many wheelchairs, and vintage blue carts pulled by pedestrians. I noticed that those who sat inside the blue carts had colorful afghans covering their laps, in contrast with their pale faces, and I figured that the blankets were hand-made by volunteers. Those who were not seated in the carts were lying in them -- helplessly flat on their backs, eyes fixed on the royaume* above.

Together, and in varying degrees of degeneration, the pilgrims advanced toward the golden church facade and the lingering inside me felt something like judgment day.

Looking over to my family, I saw three rosy-cheeked vacationers: my son, my daughter, and my husband. I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of: it was not our time yet... and hopefully it wasn't theirs either, I thought, my eyes returning to the pained pèlerins.* A scripture played silently on my tongue:

"Il y a un temps pour tout, un temps pour toute chose sous les cieux:
 un temps pour naître, et un temps pour mourir... un temps pour guérir..."*

For those surrounding us, flocking towards the holy waters, it was indeed a time to heal....

Like sheep, we followed one another until we reached a bridge and a fork in our path. To our right, there were long lines leading up to what must be the sacred site where the Blessed Virgin is said to have appeared in the grotto. Those in line must be waiting for a full immersion into the holy water there. While I was tempted to wait with the others, my family was pressed for time, and so we headed over the bridge, toward the church.

Clusters of people gathered at the side of the église,* around the corner from the entrance... On closer look, I saw the long row of robinets, or "push knob" fountains, that attracted the crowds. The pèlerins were busy filling empty bottles and gourdes* -- or any kind of portable container -- at what could be
called a self-service holy water bar.

Completely unprepared, my family and I didn't have anything to fill. Then again, my conscience reasoned, we weren't sick or ailing like the others, so why take healing waters away from someone who actually needed them? On second look, it became apparent that everyone had a need, for some of those water collectors appeared healthier than Olympic medalists.

"Venez,"* my husband said, noting an available robinet. The kids and I approached only to stand hesitant before the faucet. I reached over and pushed the knob. Out came the curative water, and I cupped my hands beneath the spout in time to catch it. I poured a bit of it across my husband's shoulders and cooled his neck, drip by drip, then patted my hands across his tired and weathered face. Looking into his appreciative eyes, I remembered the many trials that he lived through this past year, while setting out as a newbie wine farmer--this, while patching up a 17th-century farmhouse with the help of a sometimes flippant crew of workers--all the while answering, hit or miss, to the emotional needs of his family. By the end of December, he was no more than a sack of bones held together by one threadbare string of hope: he simply hoped to not fall apart. We were never certain whether or when the last frayed ends of that fragile ficelle* would snap, and the uncertainty was our own threatening noose, one we wore along with the constant knot of anxiety in our throats.

My husband's next gesture acknowledged that he was not alone in that difficult time: I watched as his hands reached up to his face, still wet with healing, before reaching out to touch my own. Suddenly, the dampness from his palms absorbed into my own pores with such a cathartic jolt that I had to turn away in time for the water to rush out, as it had done at the fountain, from behind the blinking eyes on my face.

This past transitional year, with its ups and downs, with all that was spoken and unspoken, written and unwritten, was now behind us, and here we were, still standing, each on his/her own two feet: with a home and a first vintage** to boot.... and two thoughtful kids who were now baptizing each other and their parents with splashing, sacred glee.

Walking out of Lourdes, the other pilgrims' pain was manifest: those crutches, the wheelchairs, the disfigurement. Hidden was the pain of those "healthy ones" who sometimes wear their anguish on the inside flap of the heart.

*     *     *
To comment on today's story, or to add the definition for "baptême" in another language, click here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
une pancarte
(f) = sign; un appareil (m) = camera; petit à petit = little by little; le royaume (des cieux) (m) = Kingdom (of Heaven); le pèlerin (m) = pilgrim; "Il y a un temps pour tout, un temps pour toute chose sous les cieux: un temps pour naître, et un temps pour mourir... un temps pour guérir... = (Ecclesiastes 3) There is a time for everything, a time for everything under the heavens... a time to be born, and a time to die.... a time to heal ; une église (f) = church; une gourde (f) = flask; venez = come here; la ficelle (f) = string

Jackie jean-marc max in lourdes france

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Kristin, your story truly touched me and brought tears to my eyes. The depth of your feelings really comes right out of the computer screen. Merci for sharing this beautiful, personal story with us, your devoted readers!

Best wishes and many blessings to you and your family, now and always!


Julia Frey

today's essay was oddly moving. I send you all much strength, courage and hope.



Ah! I haven't been by in a while. This commenting is new, isn't it?

Nancy Russell

Thank you for your beautiful account of Lourdes. You have certainly brought forth the fact that people are hurting and need comforting inside as well as outside. You have comforted many by telling this story. Your depth of understanding is wonderful and encouraging. Nancy Russell Nashville TN


I just wanted to say how much I have been enjoying your blog. A painless way to patch up my rusty French and a reminder of happy days in France with friends of long ago.


I loved today's story. Years ago, it was September 1 (my wedding anniversary) and Princess Diana had just died in Paris a day or two earlier. That day is ingrained in my memory. We were in France on vacation for the first time, and I had always promised myself if I ever went to France, I would go to Lourdes. It was more important than ever, because my son has autism. We went there, not expecting a miracle, but to ask for grace and strength throughout our lives (and I believe that request has been granted!). When you light a candle at Lourdes, apparently the volunteers extinguish them, and relight them later. As I was turning away, the volunteer got my attention and showed me he was not extinguishing our candle. That was sweet. We did have our minor miracle while leaving. My husband was driving, my aunt was in the passenger seat. I was in the back of the van with mother and son. My nonverbal son turned to me, touched my hair and said "hair". I almost jumped out of my skin. This boy cannot talk. I tried to stay calm and smiled and said "yes, that's my hair". No big cures happened for us at Lourdes, but we did receive the smallest of graces, and my son did speak, one word, one day.


Kristin, I have had such empathy for all that you have been through this past year. Your very moving description of the events of your visit to Lourdes suggest both a symbolic and very real rejuvenation for all of you. I send you my very best wishes.

Evelyn Jackson

A beautiful and moving story. Try as we might,we so often take those most important to us for granted. Lourdes was a gentle reminder to you, and in turn, to us to appreciate those we love.

Did you ever visit the church at Chimayo in New Mexico when you lived in the Southwest? The dirt there is supposed to be sacred and healing as well. You enter a very small room next to the altar. It's lined with pictures, crutches, memorabilia of faithful who have been healed. Then you duck under a doorway into a tiny space with a dirt floor. In the middle people dig a small amount of the healing soil to rub on themselves or take home. I simply could not make myself snap any pictures of the church or the dirt seemed too intrusive and almost sacreligous.


Kristin - what a wonderful day to send this account of your stop at Lourdes - today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother into Heaven!!
Praise the Lord for your wonderful way with words - French and English!!!

Merci encore une fois,



That is so beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face at the same time.

Nancy LoBalbo

Oh My! Kristin such a touching post. Talk about tears "springing to ones eyes", they surely sprang to mine. Some days as I read your postings and bask in my daydreams of a gloriously beautiful South of France, it is easy to forget that you are living a truly REAL life, with all it's ups and downs, joys and hardships and not necessarily the ideal dreamworld that I fashion for myself in my ideal piece of France.
May God Bless you & your family and keep you healthy and strong in body, mind and spirit.


Beautiful! I was trying not to cry at work.



I have been reading your blog for years, and you have brought tears to my eyes more than once, but this truely moved me. Having been an outsider, looking into the small windows you share with your readers has provided enough detail to understand deeply what this meant to you. Well done. And thank you.


Kristin - I have always enjoyed your blog, but I have to say that today's posting was perhaps your best yet. Thank you for sharing your life with us. My heartfelt prayers and best wishes to you and your family.


What a magnificant story....and beautifully written. Cheers to all of you for surviving and thriving and even finding moments of joy during a most challenging year. Am sitting here teary and smiling at a computer screen!

Have a great weekend.


Very moving and insightful...thank you.

Bob Haine

I have visited Lourdes twice, and in spite of the often criticized commercialism of the city, I came away feeling at least a little "gueri" or cured myself, and also inspired by the faith and the blessedness of the shrine and its pilgrims. I remember especially the multi-lingual, candle-lit rosary procession in the wind and rain, as well as the international mass in the "basilique souterain".


This is a beautiful, heartfelt story. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks and God bless. Victoria


I went to Lourdes in '71. It was the same then as now. In the evening they form a procession, everyone has a candle, and they sing the song from the movie. St. Anne de Beaupres in Quebec is a similar site.

Jules Greer

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they
shall see I read your FWAD yesterday this thought kept running through my head...your heart is pure Kristi, and
I am so proud that you are able to open up
your heart and thoughts and share with so
many people who follow your life in FWAD. You are such a private person, but somehow you have grown into the freedom to share
your most private thoughts with all of us. As I am your Mother I have an even larger
perspective of your life to call upon when I think of you. Now I will share with you and all of your fans - about a month ago I received a note from Jean-Marc - all it said was "I am so in love with Kristi". This is the greatest note a Mother could receive - what more can I say except "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. XOXO


And a very fine vintage it is, my friends!

The soul's path isn't always easy, but it is clear.

Prayers on the always. Here's to many more vintages...and a settling into this new path that begins to bring balance to more than Jean Marc's award winning wine.



Catching up with your blog and feeling very moved... I know exactly what you mean by what a healthy face might conceal!

Your hands, and the holy water, in that extraordinary environment, got the power of sharing and soothing anxieties. The response from Jean Marc got you in tears... Blessed tears, I would say! I felt the sharing of that moment between the 2 of you was so meaningful. It rejuvenated your faith in each other, your love, and it gave you strength to get on...
I don't know how to thank you for the positive effects this extraordinary sharing had on me.

Carol Folino

I was truly touched by your story.When I was a child,my Memere gave me a bottle of holy water form Lourdes and a 45 record of the story of Bernadette.I would play it over and over.It was a special time of my life.Merci for resurrecting the memory 40 years later...

Paul Carroll

The word for baptism in Finnish is kaste (which also means morning dew). Reading your daily words in the wrong order as I have built up a backlog ...with good intention be assured. Working more in Brussels soon and however polyglot a city it may be, a sigficant part of the local population lives and work through French. Your contributions help to brush up in a painless (au contraire..)way


hey thanks so much for this website!im preparing for a french exam and this is helping me brush up and improve my vocabulary..this is golddust!!thanks : )

Carol McFarland

Thanks for such a touching and beautiful piece about your family's vacation to Lourdes.


Kristi, your marvelous insight on such a personal topic has soothed these frazzled nerves as evenly as any theraputic balm. I could almost feel those healing waters splash right off the page and into my heart. I think it is much better to experience "the moment" of the waters, as you did, with all your being and hold it in your memories than to trap the living powers in a man-made container only to sit stagnant on a shelf. I agree with Jules, and "Mothers" know best!

Lary Marler

Bravo! Some of the best writing you've done. Keep up the good work.

Christine Dashper

Mille mercis Kristin, for this heartfelt story and for sharing it. May both your special talents, yours and Jean-Marcs winemaking, continue to bring you joy and happiness.

Warmest wishes Christine








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