Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
A 70-year-old hiker forced to drink his own urine after becoming lost on a mountain and finding himself constantly back at the same spot whatever direction he went in suddenly found his way to a group of monks after praying to God for help.
The story of the man’s survival, which was held as a miracle by his son, happened on the mountain said to be the final resting place of Mary Magdalene.
It happened in the Sainte-Baume mountain ridge in the department of the Var in southern France and the stunning and reclusive location includes the site where Mary Magdalene is said to have spent the last 30 years of her life as a hermit.
A cave there has even been turned into a site of pilgrimage, one of the oldest in all Christendom.
The Sainte-Baume forest that sits at the foot of the mountainous ridge is also well known to hikers and nature lovers but has a reputation for being one that people become lost in.
And that was exactly what happened to Andre Tregret, 70, an experienced hiker who set off to explore the region on 18th June and vanished.
Search and rescue operations that included a helicopter found no sign of the missing man, who for his part would set out to try a new trail to make it home, and every evening would end up back at the same place no matter which direction he took.
In order to stay alive, he even resorted to drinking his own urine and by the 5th day, exhausted and disorientated, and back at the same ridge, he had started to pray to God for help.
He then set out on his last legs and eventually came across a group of Dominican Friars who had just been praying for his safe return.
Exhausted and weakened, he was hospitalised and is now out of danger.
His son Camille Tregret said: “It’s a miracle! My father has been the subject of a miracle!”
He added: “My father is a seasoned hiker. He left last Thursday for a day hike with a sandwich, 2 apples, 3 cakes and 2 small bottles of water in his bag. He doesn’t have a mobile phone, so he left without a means of communication.”
He added that his father “quickly found himself without food or water. So he drank his urine for 4 days so as not to die of thirst. He also tried to find his way back home by taking a different path every day but each time he came back to ‘his ledge’.”
‘His ledge’ is a small ledge he slept on during the cold nights.
Over the course of the weekend, he even spotted a gendarmes helicopter and waved his windbreaker at it but they did not see him.
On Sunday evening, he found an apple in his bag that he thought he had already eaten. His son said: “This apple might have given him the energy he needed because on Monday, he took to the trails again. It was his last attempt, he was exhausted.”
In the middle of the night, Andre reappeared at the Hostellerie de la Sainte-Baume, a special hotel run by Dominican Friars.
They had just been praying for his safe return a few hours earlier.
One of the friars, unnamed, is quoted in local media as saying: “It really is a miracle.”
Camille said: “My dad is a believer. He told us that he had asked God for help to get out of this situation. It really was a spiritual journey for him. And he is looking forward to meeting up with the Dominican Friars.”
Local media report that after this scare, Andre’s family are determined to give him his very first mobile phone.
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