By Benjamin Mann
New Orleans, La., Mar 17, 2011 / 08:03 am
EWTN
EWTN New Orleans, famous for its celebration of Mardi Gras just before Ash Wednesday, has another Catholic-derived tradition that falls during Lent. The “Saint Joseph altar,” originally a custom of Italian families and parishes, has become woven into the culture of the American south.

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Saint Joseph Abbey Retreat

Covington, Louisiana

June 26 -28th

During a retreat at the Saint Joseph Abbey Monastery, Immaculée shared her miraculous story of how she survived during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 .

It’s an amazing story.  Immaculee was 22 years old and home for Easter Break from her second year of college when the Genocide began. She survived by hiding in a Pastor’s tiny bathroom 4′ x 3′ feet for 91 days with seven other starving women.

After reading her book, Left to Tell, which is life altering, I was inspired to create a piece of jewelry for her as a reminder of her spirit, mission of love and forgiveness.

The piece is called “Jewel of Africa”, consisting of a silhouette of Africa in gold with a diamond set in Rwanda.

Engraved on the back are the names of her father, mother and two brothers who were killed during the genocide.  I was moved to tears when she turned the piece over and read their names from her heart.

Immaculée shows us how to embrace the power of prayer, forge a profound and lasting relationship with God, and discover the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of truly unconditional love and understanding — through our darkest hours.