What brought a former drug-addicted partygoer to Montligeon ?

What brought Christian Layral, a former drug-addicted partygoer, to Montligeon? When you watch this man with a neatly combed white beard pray for hours a day in the basilica, you find it hard to imagine his journey to conversion.

Christian was born in a rural family in the Aveyron region of France. The nearby plateau of Larzac, where hippies of all stripes settled in the 70s, appealed to the young man as soon as he left school. He dropped everything to go and party. He then started to lose his connections to reality to lead a partygoer’s life. He thought he would one day find the answer to his quest for identity and the absolute in the hallucinations elicited by all kinds of drugs.

A brief appearance in court for trial brought him down to a brutal and forced landing. Prior to his trial, he worked in a locksmith’s shop as a mere token of goodwill. However, driven by his quest for meaning, he turned to esotericism and read books voraciously. Henri Vincenot’s best-seller , The Prophet of Compostela, was a revelation. He decided to walk to Compostela. As he was in sight on his destination, Christian was welcomed by a Spanish schoolteacher who happened to be consecrated. Straightaway, she realised that this brightly-coloured hair 27 year-old young man was thirsty for God. So she sent him knock on the door of French monasteries. 

Christian Layral, the prodigal son, found his Father

He finally settled in the community of the Beatitudes. On the celebration of the Nativity of Mary, a confession led him to a most painful realisation. He realised how much suffering he had caused to his mother and father. This triggered a very real sensation of tearing in his heart. Then came the flood of tears, followed by utter joy and the answer to all his questions: “This is essentially what we were created for: to love God”. The prodigal son had found his Father.

“I tell myself I’m in the right place to pray for them”,

says Christian Layral, who now lives in Montligeon

After being sent to work at L’Arche to look after disabled people, Christian spent about ten years assisting an old hemiplegic priest, who, among other things, shared his love for Eucharist with him. “What matters is to open your heart” says Christian. This principle guides him from now on: opening his heart to have it filled with the love of God.

“After twenty years as a caregiver, I got retired and wondered what I would then do with my life”.”Pray” was the answer. His steps led him to Montligeon, where he found he could pray at leisure. Today, his mission is to pray for the souls in purgatory. In particular, he prays for the elderly people he used to look after and who passed away in homes for the elderly. “I keep telling myself that I’m in the right place to pray for them.”

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