PRELIMINARY INFORMATION 2015
Welcome to the 33rd Chartres Pilgrimage! Briefly, we walk from Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris, to Notre-Dame Cathedral, Chartres, involving circa 70 miles in three days. This involves long hours of walking, early morning starts, arriving at the campsite late in the evenings and requires a reasonable level of fitness. The British Pilgrimage starts on Friday 22 May 2015 and this year travel is by Eurostar. We leave St. Pancras International at 1:30 pm, but we are asked to be there an hour in advance. Each day on the Pilgrimage the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be celebrated and we will also meditate on the Holy Rosary. Also, confession and spiritual guidance will be available throughout the day. On Tuesday 26 May 2015, there is Mass in the Crypt of Chartres Cathedral before a coach takes us back to Paris for our Eurostar train which arrives at St. Pancras International at 4:30pm.
Chartres is at the centre of the religious history of France. Since Roman times, when the "Virgo Paritura" was venerated here, to the present day, the shrine has not ceased to attract pilgrims from the most distinguished (all the kings of France) to the most humble.
The Chartres pilgrimage is a very old tradition in France, and has been given new vigour by the association Notre-Dame de Chrétienté‚ which has organised it for over 30 years. The president of the Association is Jean de Tauriers and the Chaplain is Abbé Denis Coiffet, a founding member of the FSSP.
The pilgrimage is a walk of prayer and penance, and has both an individual and a social character. Encouraged by several Popes, and numerous bishops, over 8,000 pilgrims take part, with about 750 coming from 20 foreign countries. All are united in prayer to Our Lady during 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. Each day, Mass is celebrated in the most beautiful way, according to the Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII. The liturgy is the traditional Latin one: magnificent instrument of prayer, stressing the universal character of the Mass.
The pilgrimage is organised in a dynamic spirit as a reaction to the materialism of our times. We place ourselves within the traditional doctrine taught by the Church. Wishing to work for the Social Reign of Our Lord, we want our Faith to overflow into our personal lives, our family lives, our working lives, and into the very life of our country. Following Huysmans, Psichari, Peguy and other illustrious converts, the Chartres pilgrims walk for Christendom, "that sunny side of a civilisation where the Kingship of Christ spreads over the lives and works of men, over the families and over the nations, searching obstinately amidst the cultures and earthly battles, for an uncompromising balance between nature and grace, wishing, by heroism and holiness, to trace already on earth the avenues of the Kingdom."
A call to conversion, a public act of reparation to the Sacred Heart, this pilgrimage is a homage to Christ the King and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The pilgrims walk in ‘chapters’. The British chapters consist of the Chapter of Our Lady of Walsingham for older adults and younger children and the Chapter of St. Alban for juventutem (youth). The Chaplains, Fr Martin Edwards, Fr Gerard Byrne, Fr Mark Withoos and Fr Alex Redman accompany us all along the walk, hearing confessions, providing meditations, prayers and teaching the Catholic Faith.
The 33rd Chartres Pilgrimage meditates on the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity following the mediations last year on God the Father – architect of Creation. On the Saturday, we meditate on the Incarnation under the patronage of Hilary of Poitiers; on Sunday, we meditate upon the Redemption, under the patronage of St. Louis, King of France; and on Pentecost Monday, we meditate upon the Resurrection under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene. Much food for thought!
It is highly recommended that pilgrims consecrate (or reconsecrate) themselves totally to Our Lady after the manner of St Louis de Montfort at the campsite at Gas before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on Pentecost. The preparation for this takes 33 days and, therefore, you should start this on 20 April 2015 (to finish on the day we leave England for the Pilgrimage). Previous pilgrims wishing to renew their Consecration should start on 2 May 2015. Details can be found on the Website.
Notre-Dame de Chrétienté supplies bread and water at lunch throughout the walk and at the evening campsite. They also supply water at the rest stops along the way. At the campsite, hot soup is available in the evenings and breakfast (coffee, hot chocolate and bread and jam) is available in the mornings. Pilgrims should, however, bring with them their own food, enough for three cold picnic lunches and to supplement the evening soup. These should be organised in England as there are very limited opportunities to buy anything during the pilgrimage.
Permanent medical assistance is assured by the doctors and hospitallers of the Order of Malta, who have an outdoor hospital at each campsite.
At each halt, shuttle buses provide transport for pilgrims who can no longer walk or, in case of emergency, to take them to hospital.
During the pilgrimage it is important to look after one's feet as walking with blisters is very painful. Along with the usual precautions of wearing good walking boots (well worn-in) and wool or cotton socks (not synthetic), experienced walkers have found that the application of "Elastoplaste", a very sticky medical tape available in French chemists (there is one near our Paris hotel), to the sole and heel of the foot results in no blisters! It costs about £6 for a box, but is well worth the investment. A foot/hand cream is also recommended. If you have trouble, do not hesitate to use the services of the Order of Malta which are always available en-route and at the campsites. The Health & Safety brigade has now, however, restricted what can be treated by the volunteers. Apparently, bursting a blister now requires the attendance of a qualified doctor!
Clothing for walking, particularly boots or good walking shoes (synthetic fibre socks are not advised). Here is the list of essentials:
a small backpack to carry throughout, containing :
· Food: lunch for the day and energy-giving snacks (dried fruit, salty nuts, etc.). Tins of tuna salad, cheese, salami, glucose tablets etc.
· Waterproof raingear (heavy rain possible!)
· water bottle (water supplied) and knife/fork/spoon
· cup for tea/coffee/soup (contents supplied, bring tea bags if tea required)
· hat, to protect against the sun (and sun cream)
· Pilgrim’s Booklet (supplied, containing all the Mass texts, hymns, and other prayers)
· Small plastic bag/cover for Pilgrim’s Booklet
· plasters and general simple medication (for blisters, headaches, dehydration etc.)
a larger bag, which will be taken in the special pilgrimage lorries and which is retrieved each evening, containing :
· food reserves (for remaining meals)
· warm jumper/garment (cold early mornings)
· change of clothing (a pullover, shirts, trousers, pants, vests, socks)
· light shoes for the evening (good boots recommended for the walk)
· toiletries and toilet paper (not essential)
· warm sleeping bag
· personal tent (if you have one) or Groundsheet and mat (for collective tents)
(When packing your luggage, make sure that that you line it with a plastic bag. Luggage is left in the open at the campsite and, if it rains, clothes may get wet. Especially, make sure that your sleeping bag is in a waterproof bag.)
Itinerary (subject to alteration)
Friday, 22 May 2015
12:30 Rendez-vous at St. Pancras International, London
13:31 Eurostar leaves for Paris
16:53 Arrival in Paris – short walk to hotel
Saturday, 23 May 2015 (Vigil of Pentecost)
05:30 Coach to Notre Dame Cathedral
07:00 Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
08:30(est.) Leave Notre Dame towards Chartres
13:30 Lunch at Bièvres (les Damoiseaux)
20:00 Arrive at Ferté-Choisel for dinner and bed (“Veillée amicale” at 21:00)
Sunday, 24 May 2015 (Pentecost Sunday)
06:15 Prayers of Departure
07:00 First Chapters leave Campsite
13:00 Solemn Mass of Pentecost & Lunch at Sonchamps (les Courlis)
20:00 Arrive at Gas Campsite
21:00 Benediction, Consecration to Our Lady and All Night Exposition
Monday, 25 May 2015 (Pentecost Monday)
06:30 Load Luggage onto Lorry at Campsite at Gas
07:00 Leave Gas for Chartres
10:30 Lunch at Gasville-Oisème
15:30 Solemn Mass in Chartres Cathedral
20:00 Dinner in Chartres
Tuesday, 26 May 2015 (Pentecost Tuesday)
10:00 Mass in Chartres CathedralCrypt—Notre Dame de Sous Terre
13:00 Depart Chartres by coach to Paris
15:10 Eurostar to London
16:39 Arrive London (St. Pancras International)
1. Live the spirituality of the pilgrimage in your chapter
2. Welcome and support new and lone pilgrims
3. March to the end of each stage, unless unable to do so for serious reasons
4. Adopt appropriate dress and behaviour, in conformity with the pilgrim spirit: immodest clothing is prohibited, especially dresses which are too short, cropped tops, paramilitary paraphernalia. The use of drugs is strictly forbidden. Alcohol and tobacco use should be discrete and moderate. Young people will be particularly supervised in this regard.
5. Respect silence when it is requested. Mobile phones and electronic devised are not to be used while walking, except in an emergency.
6. Avoid wasting any food or drink, and help to maintain cleanliness; it is a basic responsibility not to drop litter of any sort
7. Help the logistics teams when asked, and respect their instructions (in particular, pitching tents in the appropriate marked spaces).
The organisers reserve the right to exclude from the pilgrimage any person who does not respect these instructions or who refuses to follow them.
The Registration Form should be completed and returned with a deposit of £50 per person to reserve your place (please book early as the Eurostar tickets have to be confirmed by early March). Payment in full by 25 March 2015, please.