Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lourdes : Pèlerinage National

Being on holiday in the south of France, I had the opportunity to go to mass in Lourdes twice, on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady and the following Sunday.

From the 11th of August to the 16th took place what is called Le National, which means the National pilgrimage. There are pilgrimages everyday in Lourdes. Either from individual pilgrims but more often from dioceses or organizations, either French or not.

And the 15th of August was, until the French revolution, the national feast of France. Moreover, there is a special consecration of the French Kingdom to our Lady on this day with a very solemn procession which has always been followed in te French dioceses under the name of Voeu de Louis XIII. I might give more details and illustrations in another post.

The first National Pilgrimage took place in 1873 and was organized by the Congregation of the Augustines of the Assomption, who prefer to call themselves today the Family of the Assomption. Very soon the number of disabled reached the number of 1000 and it became clear that the Assumptionists coud not take care themselves of such a number of people. So they created in 1879 the Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Salut to help. The Hospitaliers are mainly lay people who come once a year to give their time during six days to take care of the sick and disabled during their pilgrimage.

This year ten thousand people were registered for the Pilgrimage National and more than thirty thousand people attended the various ceremonies in Lourdes on the Assumption Day.

As there is a growing number of traditionalists among the hospitaliers, including several priest from various institutes, and as during the year there is a permanent demand for the TLM, a weekly mass has been granted by the bishop of Tarbes - Lourdes Monseigneur Perrier. Every Sunday in the year, the TLM is said in the Upper Basilica by a priest from the FSSP, Father Paul-Joseph. For the Assumption Day (Bank Holiday and feast of Obligation in France), a solemn mass was celebrated by an Assumptionist assisted by a deacon and subdeacon at 11:00 in the Upper Basilica. Several priests said their private masses in various chapels of the Sanctuary.

Those ceremonies were not announced in the official time table. But on Sunday, Father Lecoq FSSP, who is also general chaplain for Chartres Pilgrimage, told us before the homily that he wanted to thank the various authorities of the Sanctuary for their great welcome, and that next year the FSSP is to be officialy in charge of the usus antiquior ceremonies which will be included in the schedules.

I include some photographs of the ceremonies, first the congregation in the upper basilica:

The Gospel:

Readers will probably notice the servers are not wearing cassocks but scout uniforms. The main reason is that those ceremonies have been organized at the last minute and it has been difficult to find were the cassocks and surplices are kept if there are any. Serving mass in lay clothes or uniforms is rather a tolerance than an indult.

The elevation:

The ministers after mass:

In the afternoon, there is the traditionnal procession with the disabled. This is a very long procession. There is a slow evolution in the music. There are still these endless responsary singings with verses for soloists in six different languages and a reponse in latin (alleluia or laudate Dominum or whatever). The music is generally poor. But the Tantum Ergo is sung, the Creed, the Lauda Sion as well.

The Blessed Sacrament is still carried under a big canopy. The monstrance is rather new, made in sterling silver by Goudji

Goudji is one of the favorite silversmiths of the French bishops or abbots who asked him to design many new vessels or reliquaries (Chartres altar, throne, lectern and vessels for instance).
The monstrance on the altar:

The blessing of the sick:

Sung mass on Sunday, the communion:

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