Saturday, 10 June 2017

Back from Chartres

So another year, another Chartres pilgrimage.  It is hard to know what new to write, as I have written about the previous years' pilgrimages many times

However, it was as glorious, arduous, renewing and entertaining as ever. This year, my second daughter, Bernie, decided to come along at the last minute (the Wednesday before, in fact). She was too late to get an affordable train fare to London to join us there, so got a cheap flight to Paris, and we met on the square outside Notre Dame before going into Mass there. 

The weather was kind; overcast, so not too hot, but with the threatened rain only arriving for a short and light spell towards the end of the afternoon.

The first day's march was longer than last year, for reasons not wholly clear to me: a full thirty miles. Or maybe it was that I covered more distance walking up and down the line of the pilgrimage, keeping the Chapter moving and in order.

We had some 35 souls in St Alban's Chapter (the youth chapter), and another 42 or so in the Chapter dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham (a title that the French struggle to get their tongues around - we often get something closer to Our Lady of Washing-up - a pleasing domestic title...). The chaplains for St Alban's Chapter were our old friends Fr Mark Withoos and Fr Alex Redman, along with Fr Pio and Brother Rosario of the Franciscan Friars. 

So we sang hymns, heard meditations, sang rosaries, had our confessions heard, sang marching songs, and chatted. And walked. Amongst the pilgrims were many old regulars and a number of new faces; and of course there were many old friends who were unable to be with us this year for reasons of health and family commitments, but whom we remembered in our prayers.

We also prayed for all those who had asked for our prayers during the pilgrimage.

You can see a video of the final High Mass here. Like all the Masses, it was sung according to the traditional rite; and the celebrant this year was Cardinal Burke.

Possibly because we had a cardinal as our celebrant, the Cathedral's most precious relic was carried in procession before and after Mass: the Sancta Camisa, or Our Lady's Veil. This was given to the Cathedral in 876 by Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne. Its provenance can be traced back at least to 5th century Constantinople; and (astonishingly - or not, depending on your own approach to such traditions) the cloth has been analysed as silk dating to the first century, and from the Middle East...

And the following morning, the English Chapters had their own final High Mass, in the crypt. We had put together a scratch Schola for the occasion, and I am pleased to say we acquitted ourselves well.

And I have just booked out the dates in next year's diary.

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