Chartres 2006
Photo Story

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(Report on 2006 by Michael J. Matt)

Since 1990, The Remnant has organized the American Chapter in the Pilgrimage of Tradition to Chartres, France. This Pilgrimage dates back to the middle ages. It has been made by kings (such as King Louis XIV), Queens (such as Mary Queen of Scots), and Saints (such as Joan of Arc). The famous, the lowly, the noble and the commoner have made this 72-mile walking pilgrimage from Notre Dame in Paris to the great Gothic cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres.

During World War I and War World II, the Pilgrimage was not possible, for obvious safety reasons. But it did resume after the wars had ended. It wasn't until the Second Vatican Council and the Liturgical Revolution which followed, that the great Pilgrimage was discontinued, apparently for good.

But then, in the early 1980s, several tradition-minded French Catholic laymen began again to organize the Pilgrimage. The Pilgrimage was held in honor of Mary, the Mother of God, for the purpose of the restoration of the traditional Mass and Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Some 23 years ago, shortly after these few laymen brought the Pilgrimage back into existence, there were only a handful of pilgrims participating in the Pilgrimage and, because their priests celebrated only the traditional Latin Mass, when they arrived in Chartres, they were not allowed to have Mass inside the Cathedral. Rather, these few pilgrims and their priests were forced to have Mass outside, in the city of Chartres.

But as the years passed, the popularity of the Pilgrimage grew and grew. Finally, it became so popular that the Cathedral in Chartres had to open its doors to these traditionalist pilgrims, whose number by that time had swelled to ten thousand strong.

Under the organization of several columnists from The Remnant (including Gary Potter, Michael Matt, and Michael Davies), Americans first began participating in this pilgrimage in 1990. Every year since that time, The Remnant has organized the American Chapter (which is usually between 50 and 100 pilgrims strong), and it will be doing so again in 2005.

This Pilgrimage is extremely difficult! It is a 72-mile, 3-day walk from Paris to Chartres-- through woods and fields and over blacktop highways and country roads. Pilgrims sleep outside, in floor-less tents. They eat soup, bread and water. They develop horrible blisters and they suffer unbelievable fatigue.

And yet there is no experience like this one. Catholics come from all over Europe, Canada and the United States. They come from Russia, Poland, Australia, the Ukraine and the Mid East. Traditional Catholics literally from all over the world come together to sing, to pray, and to offer penance, and to walk, and walk, and walk-- all of this so that they may stand and witness to their sacred Catholic Faith.

The Pilgrimage to Chartres is a huge triumph for every traditional Catholic. With flags waving, banners flying, and statues of saints and the Virgin Mary being held aloft for all to see, this column of pilgrims stretches out for miles across France, for three whole days. And on the last day... the last day... what a bell-ringing, thrilling, and thunderous triumph is celebrated by 20 thousand singing, weeping, and jubilant Catholic, mud-splattered pilgrims!

Once you have walked (and prayed) the Chartres Pilgrimage, you will never get it out of your blood... you will never forget it! And remember, this is not a pilgrimage of fifteen thousand old people. As a matter of fact, we strongly caution those over 55 or who are in any way sickly, not to attempt this grueling walk.

The Pilgrimage is VERY DIFFICULT and many good men are forced by the pain and exhaustion to give up trying to walk the entire way. In that case there are vans provided to transport the pilgrims to outdoor waiting areas.

This pilgrimage is made up of 15 thousand Catholics whose average age is 25-years-old. Michael Davies called it the "most important annual event happening in the Church today," and we agree with him completely.

We hope to see you on the road to Chartres for the
spiritual adventure of a lifetime!

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