British Pilgrims entering the Cathedral at Chartres

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Chartres 2012

It's never too early to start thinking of ... Chartres 2012.  Dates for the diary:  25 to 29 May 2012!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

How was Your Pilgrimage?

Fr Anthony Mary, Alpine Redemptortist, Papa Stronsay
Fr Martin Edwards, PP St Mary Magdalene, Southwark
Fr Gerard Byrne, PP St. Brendan's, Corby, Northampton  

The British Pilgrims have returned triumphantly from France, good weather resulting in an overwhelming majority of the Pilgrims being able to complete the whole of the gruelling 70 mile walk!  Pontifical Mass in Chartres Cathedral, celebrated by the auxillary Bishop of Nanterre, Mgr Brouwet (in the presence of the bishop of Chartres, Mgr Pansard) was it's usual magnificent self.  The Cathedral was packed and the British Chapters found themselves the first chapters not to get in the Cathedral.  Tantalisingly close!!  However, we had a great view of the large screens at the front of the Cathedral and the processions of banners and clergy.  We were also given the privilege of meeting the Bishop of Chartres (wearing his purple for the first time) who came over to express his opinion that his Cathedral was the most beautiful in the world; a sentiment to which the British Pilgrims heartily agreed!  A refreshing meal in a local restaurant and a good night's rest in a local hotel completed the day for the London bound pilgrims.  The next day, we had 5 Low Masses in the Crypt of Chartres Cathedral, one for each of our 5 priests who were staying overnight.  At the time of our group Mass (9:15 am) it was heartening to witness a further 3 Masses at the same time in adjoining chapels--one for Fr Withoos, chaplain to St Edward's Chapter, one for the Canadian Pilgrims, and one for the Irish Pilgrims.  The Sacristan was kept very busy and did an admirable job.  A relaxing few hours viewing the Cathedral or having a coffee in the square precipitated the relatively unremarkable return to London where goodbyes were said on the Piazza of Westminster Cathedral at about 8 PM.  Photos to follow.

How was your pilgrimage?  Please use the comments box to let us know! Feedback on improvements or things which went particularly well this year are also appreciated.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Last Orders!

We are now making the final arrangements for our Pilgrimage to France.  We have registered, with the French Organisers, Notre Dame de Chretiente, 106 British (and other) Pilgrims which means we will have 3 good sized Chapters, Our Lady of Walsingham, St Alban and St Edward.  At least 6 priests will be joining us:  Frs. Martin Edwards, Gerard Byrne, Mark Withoos, Alex Redman, Bede Rowe and Bruno Witchalls.  Four of these will be joining us on the Coach from London and two will be joining us in France.  We have finalised the Pilgrimage booklets which will shortly be printed.  We are planning a small chant booklet as Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, has offered to provide some basic chant lessons enroute and it is hoped to be able to form a small choir to sing the final Mass on the Tuesday morning in Chartres Cathedral Crypt.  Meditations on the Theme of this year's Pilgrimage are also being prepared.  Less than 4 weeks to go!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Itinerary Update

Following an update to the Notre Dame de Chretiente website and confirmation from Clarkes, we have updated the Itinerary.  Please take a look.  The most serious changes are to the times and places of Mass during the Pilgrimage and the place for lunch on Whit Monday.  Departure times from London and return to London are unchanged.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Chartres 2011 Update!

Can I still Join?

The Pilgrimage proper starts at 6 AM at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Saturday, 11 June, so you can join the British Chapters there. You will obviously need to make your own travel and accommodation arrangements.  Your luggage should be put on the lorry marked "Etrangers." You should be able to spot the British chapters amongst the crowd as we should be the only ones flying the the Union flag!  However, we will need your Registration Form with a cheque for £40.00 to cover the Registration Fee. Please note that we must know that you are coming in order to allocate you to the appropriate chapter, provide a hymn book and allocate tent space as necessary. It is not possible to “turn up and go!” We will need the Registration Form by 10 May (Updated!) in order to have time to complete the registration procedures with the French organisers.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Theme for 2011

The theme for Chartres 2011 is "The Gospel of Life" and so this year's Pilgrimage will, in effect, be a great Pro Life March.  Each day of Pilgrimage has a sub-theme and a Patron Saint.  On the first day of Pilgrimage, the "saint" will be Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the sub-theme is "The Gospel of Life, a Gift of God"; on Pentecost Sunday, our patron is Saint Maria Goretti and the sub-theme is "The Gospel of Life, a Gift for Man"; and the Patron for Pentecost Monday is Our Lady of Guadalupe and the sub-theme is "Proclaim the Gospel of Life."  Under the information section of this Website, there are biographies of Blessed Mother Teresa and St. Maria Goretti and information on Our Lady of Guadalupe can be accessed by clicking the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There is also a Presentation of the Theme for 2011 here.  Rally under the Banner of Life!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Chartres Reunion & Mass in Preparation

National Chaplain, Fr Martin Edwards, celebrates Mass 

We hope that everyone enjoyed the reunion/Mass in Preparation last Sunday.  There was a good mix of doughty regulars and new people.  Apologies to Fr Basden for taking half of his congregation!  Despite taking my new camera, I neglected to take any photographs, so we are indebted to Dr Joseph Shaw, the LMS Chairman, for the above photograph.  Other photographs are available on the Chairmans blog, where there is also a report on the Reunion.  The Mass was very beautiful with a more than competent choir singing Mozart's Spatzen Mass.  Conor Carroll, Chartres Pilgrim and now married to Madeleine Readings, gave an interesting talk regarding the Good Counsel Network which does sterling work in not only persuading women to keep their babies, but also offering practical help in order to allow them to do so.  Further information at The Good Counsel Network.   Congratulations to Conor and Madeleine who are expecting their first child in April.  This was followed by lunch in the Parish Hall.  Information for Chartres 2011 was available and there was informal discussion around the Pilgrimage.  A very enjoyable Sunday afternoon.


Saturday, 29 January 2011

Mass in Preparation for Chartres 2011 -- 6 Feb 2011

Fr Martin Edwards, our National Chaplain, has invited all Chartres Pilgrims and interested parties to his Parish for Mozart's Spatzen Mass followed by lunch (bring a packed lunch) and a gathering of Chartres Pilgrims old, new and prospective.  A great opportunity to find out what the pilgrimage is really like from veteran walkers!   

11AM, Sunday, 6 February 2011 
St Mary Magdalene, Wandsworth Common, London SW18 2QU 

(Bring a Packed Lunch!)

N.B. There will be an Appeal on Behalf of the Good Counsel by Conor Carroll, Chartres Pilgrim

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Chartres 2011

What is the Chartres Pilgrimage?

The Chartres pilgrimage is an ancient tradition in France which has been given new vigour by the association Notre-Dame de Chrétienté which has organised it for the last 25 years.  It is a walk of  prayer and penance to the glory of God and Our Blessed Lady.  Encouraged by the Pope, and numerous bishops, 15,000 pilgrims (including 850 from outside France) take part in a three-day walk of 70 miles, making this the largest pilgrimage of its kind in Western Europe, both in the distance covered and in the number of pilgrims.

What happens?

It begins on the day before Pentecost when thousands of  Catholics from the USA, Russia, Australia, Ireland, Canada, the UK, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Spain and so many other countries join their French brothers and sisters at dawn beneath the spires of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  Three days later it ends in the city of Chartres as the dust-covered pilgrims complete the challenging march and kiss the stones of the ancient Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres. Much of what happens in between defies description.

The British Group over the last few years has  contained several musicians, lawyers, doctors, students, civil servants, computer specialists, physiotherapists, teachers, builders, postmen, engineers,  a retired famous footballer, the young and the old.....the pilgrimage is for everyone.


Why do thousands of Catholics from all over the world make the journey back to France every spring?  Each has his own reason.  Some have a special intention, a loved one to pray for; some have a difficult decision to make; some offer thanks for favours received; but many come back because nowhere in their daily lives do they see the Catholic Faith alive as it is on the road to Chartres.

They see a Faith which is dynamic, solid and comprehensive; they see hope for the future in the enthusiastic unashamed desire to be truly good on the part of the young pilgrims; and they see charity alive and on fire.  Christianity without compromise.  It is a sight to behold.  It is also fun as the comradeship, good humour and shared experience of the pilgrims make the heart sing.

“Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows... What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden  entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”  (Pope Benedict XVI)

For three days,  France can’t ignore this strange and wonderful pilgrim parade, flanked by countless priests in muddied cassocks and purple stoles.  Throngs of scouts lovingly carry statues of Our Lady on their shoulders; banners of the saints are raised high for all to see; pilgrims sing forgotten hymns, renew broken vows, and celebrate Mass in the Rite of their forefathers, saints and martyrs.  The Pilgrimage to Chartres is fire in the darkness that covers modern Europe.

How does it work?

The pilgrims walk in "chapters" (groups of 20 to 50 people), under the patronage of a Saint and are led by a leader who, with the help of  chaplains organise the chapter hymns,  meditations, rosary and prayers.
Each day, Mass is celebrated in the most beautiful way, according to the Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII (in accordance with the Pope's Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum"). Two Masses in the open air and the last in one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the world.

Each evening a tent city is created to house the many pilgrims.  A hearty soup is served to all and a great bonfire and historical pageant is performed on Saturday night.  Sunday night is for Our Lord, all-night adoration in the open air ensuring a night of prayer and silence.