Saturday, 18 June 2011


Ant and I got back from Chartres just the other day.

As you may know, the Chartres Pilgrimage is a traditional annual event every Pentecost. Pilgrims assemble at 6.00 am in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and after a brief prayer in the Cathedral, set out to walk to Chartres: around 8500 of them, mainly young, mainly French, but with many other nationalities represented.

On the first day, we walk for some 15 miles, then stop for Mass in the woods and lunch, and then another 15 miles to the campsite where we spend the night.

The second day, Pentecost Sunday, is similar, with all-night adoration at the campsite for those who can't - or choose not to - sleep...

The third day, we walk the remaining 10 miles or so to Chartres, for High Mass in the Cathedral.

All the Masses are in the Extraordinary Form, and along the way, we pray rosaries (sung in Latin) and have meditations, confession, hymns and marching songs, and good old-fashioned conversation...

Those are the bare facts: what is much harder to convey is the experience: to be one of so many Catholics of so many nations, marching in honour of Our Lady, united in belief and worship (Latin is so self-evidently the way forward for the Universal [=global = Catholic] Church); to walk till it hurts and realise it is only lunchtime; to sing till your voice gives out, and realise there are five more decades to be sung; to turn over and over in your bed, and then be told (at 5.00 am) that it is time to get up; to be offered grace after grace...

This was the fourth time I have been and the fifth Ant has; we both agreed it gets ever-richer and we will be back!

You can see the photo album here.

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