The largest-ever Chartres pilgrimage! 16,000 people walked from Paris to Chartres and a further 6,000 walked from Chartres to Paris.
From Catholic Conclave
Pentecost: with 16,000 registered, a record has already been broken for the 41st "Pélé de Chartres".
From Saturday 27 to Monday 29 May 2023, at least 16,000 pilgrims, including 2,000 from the west of France (500 of them from Brittany), will be making the journey from Paris to Chartres Cathedral for the Feast of Pentecost. The 41st edition of this pilgrimage, organised by the Notre-Dame-de-Chrétienté association, which is committed to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Catholic rite, is already breaking all records. Although the faithful of the traditional Latin liturgy are numerous in the ranks of the pilgrims, they are not the only ones...
2,000 pilgrims from the west of France, including 500 from Brittany, will be among the 16,000 people already registered for the 41st Pentecost pilgrimage between Paris and Chartres.
Pope Francis' cold shoulder to the traditional liturgy over the last two years has clearly not dampened the fervour of Catholics attached to the Latin Mass, known as the Mass of St Pius V. This year, for Pentecost (the feast celebrated 50 days after Easter marking the revelation of the Holy Spirit to the Virgin Mary and the apostles), no fewer than 16,000 people from all over France, including nearly 2,000 from the west of the country (500 of them from Brittany), but also from Europe and other countries around the world, have already registered for the 41st edition of the pilgrimage organised between Paris and Chartres by the Notre-Dame de Chrétienté association. "Usually, the peak in registrations is during the last fortnight before Pentecost. This year, it was at the end of April..." explains Jean Mercadier, who is in charge of coordinating the groups of Breton pilgrims.
All of which is good news for the organisers. We never hid our sadness at the publication of the motu proprio Traditionis custodes (July 2021) and the various texts on this subject," concedes Hervé Rolland, general delegate for the pilgrimage. But we were reassured by Pope Francis' decree of 11 February 2022, confirming the use of traditional liturgical books for the Fraternity of St Peter and, as he said, for other traditional institutes".
The Chartres pilgrimage is also a logistical challenge that requires first-rate organisation: reconnaissance of routes, diaries, routes taken, relations with the authorities (prefectures, town halls, police, gendarmerie), preparation of bivouacs, ordering food and drink, SNCF trains for the return journey, coaches, etc... "During the pilgrimage, over a thousand people are involved in all these aspects," explains Hervé Rolland.
After the mass at 7am on Saturday 27 May in the Church of Saint-Sulpice (6th arrondissement), the pilgrims will travel for three days to reach the plains of Beauce, so dear to the writer Charles Péguy, and the spires of Notre-Dame de Chartres cathedral.
"Beginners" too, from non-practising families
"The meaning of this pilgrimage has not changed. It's based on three pillars, like an oak tree: Tradition as its roots, Christianity as a solid trunk (the catechism, the Church's social teaching, Christ's kingship over the nations) and the branches, flexible and broad, to gently welcome pilgrims, wherever they come from, whether believers or not", explains Hervé Rolland.
This year, 330 clerics, including almost 200 priests, are accompanying the pilgrims, who are not all regular devotees of the traditional Mass. "More and more Chartres pilgrims are "beginners", coming from non-practising or even non-Catholic families. Many of them discover this rite during the pilgrimage and become attached to it".
For the 2023 event, Notre-Dame de Chrétienté is joining forces with the Order of Malta to help the disabled. Since registration for the pilgrimage opened, an appeal for donations has been launched to support the Foyer d'Accueil Médicalisé (FAM), Maison Saint-Fulbert, in Lèves, on the outskirts of Chartres. "This home provides care and support for adults with autism spectrum disorders. The home needs two-seater tricycles to enable residents to go out on the road with a family member or someone visiting them", explains Hervé Rolland.
A pilgrimage that is "making waves" abroad
On Saturday 27 May 2023, Mass will be celebrated at 7am in the Church of Saint Sulpice (Paris) by Abbé Julien Durodié, parish priest of Saint Eugène-Sainte Cécile (Paris IX). The opening address will be given by Abbé Jean de Massia, chaplain general of Notre-Dame de Chrétienté. The pastoureaux (teenagers), children and families will leave from Igny (Essonne) after a Mass celebrated by Abbé Jean-Raphaël Dubrule, Superior General of the Society of Missionaries of Divine Mercy (Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon). Sunday 28 May, at 12:30 pm, Pentecost Mass celebrated in the Courlis meadow, near Rambouillet (Yvelines) by Father Luis Gabriel Barrero Zabaleta, Superior General of the Institute of the Good Shepherd. At 9.15pm, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at the Gas bivouac (Eure-et-Loir). Monday 29 May, at 3:30pm, Pontifical Mass celebrated in Chartres Cathedral by Mgr Thomas Gullickson, Archbishop and Nuncio emeritus of American nationality, who was Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, in the presence of Mgr Philippe Christory, bishop of Chartres.
Cathcon: To which should be added the 6000 pilgrims from the Society of Saint Pius X who are walking in the opposite direction.
Of your charity, pray for the repose of the soul of Abbé Paul Aulagnier, founder of the Institute of the Good Shepherd.
The wonderful history of the pilgrimage in words and pictures.