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“Its Foundation is in the Holy Mountains”



The remodeling of La Valla

25/04/2013: France - Photo gallery
The La Valla worksite

Spring has come to France! After so much cold and snow, life returns. Dawn was breaking as I climbed on foot to the worksite through the old road. The green environment accompanied me. Deciduous trees are greening up. The reservoirs give a splendid and serene beauty to the landscape. I move in silence, listening to the birds’ good morning greeting, while another song resonates within me, Psalm 87, a song of praise to Jerusalem: “Its foundation is in the holy mountains, the Lord loves the gates of Zion. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. They were all born in you; they all place their dwelling in you.” What an audacity! I replace “gates of Zion” with “Maison Bonner”, “City of God” with “La Valla”... What a beautiful updating! “We all find our dwelling in you, in your hands,” I whisper.

Having demolished the old outdoor stairs, the rock has appeared emerging from the ground.

This corner, hidden by the building of the XIX century, will be of great educational value for everyone: we are comforted when seeing, most of all, our house built on the “rock”. But in this day and age, it also entails a profound evangelical message (Mt 7:24). Furthermore, seated on this rock as its foundation, a series of intertwined carved stones appeared, forming a rigid body to strengthen the angle, matching those at the edge of the chapel.

Fantastic! I’ll leave this detail in sight, I thought. In that way, when “coming home”, we will listen to the Shepherd of Hermas, the lay writer of the second century, who saw the Church represented as a great tower built with living stones, the Christians. A Church which was already there, but always under construction at the same time. Just like us Marists!

The works on Maison Boner are going ahead at the right pace. All the roofs are on and the floors are concreted. The spaces are already visible in the right proportion and measure.

What spaces am I speaking about? Last year the General Council and the Province of the Hermitage approved the remodeling of La Valla, one of our foundational places. Bonner House was in really bad condition. The only place worth a visit was the Champagnat room, with the table, the altar and not much else. Therefore the inside of the house was entirety demolished, except for the small room with the famous table. The external walls have been preserved and strengthened, and the covering was replaced, for it was very simple, as you can see.

LaValla LaValla

Except for Father Champagnat’s room, which is being restored in old fashion, we have proceeded freely, since the building is very functional, but without losing its home atmosphere.

Besides that, three pillars of Marist life are symbolically represented in the La Valla house thanks to a very clear architectural language: spirituality, fraternity and prophetic mission.

In fact, the house has three levels inside: the basement (with a small wine cellar), the ground floor and the second floor. Two small rooms with bathroom and a tiny kitchen have been built in the loft.
The two drawings below make it easier to understand.


LaValla The three levels: basement (red), ground floor (green) and second floor (yellow).

In the basement we find the “inner wine cellar”, in the language of St. John of the Cross, “the hidden mystical space, into which you descend to find stillness, grounding and living water.” The ground floor, at the entrance level, is transparent, warm and without barriers. Here we find the table, a symbol of our fraternity, which is supported on the “inner cellar”, and founded on the evident Rock. This leads to the second floor, to the Upper Room: with its double height ceiling and large window overlooking the valley, it speaks about our Prophetic Mission today, going beyond borders to reach the world.

The house speaks for itself: Mission is supported on Fraternity, which in turn is founded on the Rock, on the inner treasure. This is the spirituality that permeates our house. Our spirituality. Everyone will be able to have this experience. La Valla is that simple. And that is how we should listen, because if the Hermitage speaks loudly, La Valla whispers beautiful words of love in our hearts. The same words that seduced Marcellin and the first Brothers. Fire of Pentecost that passionately launched them to the world from this humble corner of Europe.

Today, brothers and lay people “cut the rock” together and shape it with tenderness and conviction. In communion, and accompanied by Mary, they follow the path that began in La Valla, sculpting and constructing not only buildings, but people!

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LaValla LaValla LaValla

LaValla I will never be grateful enough for the fact that this place is only an hour flight away from Barcelona. That is why I would like to address these lines especially to those who may never be able to come. And if this message is able to transmit just a spark of the spirit that animates me, I will be more than happy, as I help you guard this treasure in your heart, the legacy of the small and humble Bonner House, where everything started, between a priest in his twenties and a handful of laymen!
La Valla, you have expanded up to the ends of the world: Africa, Oceania, Asia and America! Today we all come to you. For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see the light.
Architect Joan Puig-Pey

Articles: Lavalla 1 | Lavalla 2 | Lavalla 3
Photo galleries: Lavalla 1 | Lavalla 2 | Lavalla 3 | Lavalla 4

The La Valla worksite

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