Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”


Every year a small group of members of the Order join in the Pentecost Chartres pilgrimage, mostly from the French Association, supported by rather more young people from the Oeuvres Hospitallieres, who also provide all the first aid and medical back-up for the 15,000 pilgrims in a seriously impressive operation.  Under the banner of Notre-Dame de Philerme, they walk from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris to that of Notre-Dame de Chartres.

For many years a group from the Grand Priory of England and BASMOM have also joined, initially organised by Dudley Heathcote, and, following some years' absence, this year a very small group, including Companions, joined the Chapitre de Notre-Dame de Philerme for the last day of the walk.
For many years our beloved and late Grand Prior, when Chancellor, accompanied the present Grand Master amongst the Order pilgrims, and provided essential support of transport for the halt and lame, and sustenance for the tired.  The photograph above shows Fra' Freddy arriving at the lunchtime camp in 2001 with essential supplies.  It was indeed on the road to Chartres that the editor of this blog first met him.

This year the weather was ideal for the walk, dry and neither too hot nor too cold, as can be seen from this photograph below of a few members of the Chapitre Notre-Dame de Philerme with the banner on the last day. The spires of Chartres Cathedral may just be made out in the haze on the horizon. Singing is a large feature of the pilgrimage, as it takes ones mind off the passing miles and tired feet. Also important is prayer; all pilgrims are are expected to say a full Rosary together on the walk, and the devotions of the Chapitre were led by Fra' Emmanuel Rousseau, with the recitation of Lauds and Vespers on foot every day (in Latin, new Office) and Compline in the camp, at which all the volunteers and helpers of the First Aid post joined in.

As in every year, the closing Mass in the Cathedral was celebrated as a pontifical High Mass, this year by His Excellency Monseigneur Nicholas Brouwet, auxiliary bishop of Nanterre, in the presence of His Excellency Monseigneur Michel Pansard, Bishop of Chartres, who presided in cope from the throne.

For those who wish, the homily given by Mgr Brouwet (French only) may be read by clicking here. This official site also gives more information about the pilgrimage.

The many banners of the various Chapitres are carried into the Cathedral for the Mass, and this year there is an excellent video of the procession leaving the Cathedral at the end of Mass, to the strains of "Chez nous, soyez Reine" (courtesy of New Liturgical Movement and Gloria TV). The banner of Notre-Dame de Philerme may be clearly seen from 5:41 to 5:52.

It is hoped that in future years more members of the Order in Britain will accept the invitation of our French hosts to join them.

Notre-Dame de Philerme, priez pour nous.