As a girl growing up, my Catholic faith was a deep and defining part of my life. Although I attended public school, most of my classmates also attended the Saturday Catechism classes as I did. We made our First Communion together. Looking at our group photo outside Saint Paul’s Church and our class picture that same year, nearly all of the faces were the same.
In 1943 Jennifer Jones starred in the lead role in the film The Song of Bernadette. She won best actress. The film was critically acclaimed and financially a success for the studio, winning four of the twelve Oscar nominations. The first Golden Globe Awards were held in 1944, and the film won Best Director of a Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Actress for Jennifer Jones. Seventeen years later, The Song of Bernadette left a great impression upon me that has stayed with me all these years later.
The Song of Bernadette was written by Franz Werfel, a Jewish German writer who found himself in Lourdes while trying to escape to Portugal after France fell to the Nazis. Families in Lourdes took Werfel and his wife in, sharing with them the story of Bernadette and her visions of Our Lady. Werfel was so moved by the story that he vowed, when they escape, he would write a story of Saint Bernadette to share with the world. He kept his word. Not only did he write The Son of Bernadette, but was instrumental in the transition from page to the big screen.
Typically the Church celebrates the Feast Day of any given saint on the day of their death, when they pass from the hardships of this world to a better life in Heaven. The official Feast Day of Saint Bernadette is April 16th, the day of her death at 35. In France, today is the Feast Day of Saint Bernadette. It is the day Our Lady promised her happiness not in this life but the next.
The Church calls us all to humble ourselves before the Lord. So often the greatest examples of humility come from the women, beginning with Our Blessed Mother. Women are the true keepers of faith, the heart of the family and the gentle examples of true strength. Therein lay our power, given by God. No man can take that from us. Therein lay the secret to true liberation.
Today is also National Drink Wine Day. Perfect with a delicious yet humble stew. Enjoy!
Peasant Chicken with Stewed Vegetables
2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons Black Pepper
3 teaspoons Garlic Powder
3 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
4 Chicken Legs
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with foil. Generously coat foil with olive oil and set aside.
Mix seasonings together in a small bowl. Rub skins of chicken legs with olive oil. Rub seasoning mix over skins. Arrange on the prepared pan, place on center rack in oven. Roast 15 minutes, turn and continue to roast until cooked through, about 15 minutes longer.
Keep warm until ready to serve.
1 (12 oz) jar Chicken Gravy
1-3/4 cups Chicken Stock
1 teaspoon dried Thyme Leaves
4 oz fresh Mushrooms, sliced (about 3 oz)
4 small red potatoes, cut into quarters
2 cups Baby Carrots
1/2 cup frozen Sweet Baby Peas
Thyme Sprigs for garnish
While the chicken is roasting, create the stew. In a 4-quart saucepan, mix together chicken gravy, chicken stock and thyme. Set aside.
Clean mushrooms, slice and add to the saucepan. Scrub potatoes, cut into quarters and add to the saucepan. Add baby carrots. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Stir in frozen peas. Cover; simmer about 5 minutes or until peas are tender.
Ladle vegetable stew into serving bowl. Top each with a chicken leg. Garnish with fresh thyme.
Serve with warm French Bread and a crisp white wine. Enjoy!