Three feasts at the same time

Photo 2.  Pilgrims from the small village of Pissenavache, in the Doubs region of France, who came especially to pray on 6 June. feast of Saint Claude

On Sunday 11 June 2023, the cathedral of Saint Claude in the Jura, France, will be celebrating three feasts at the same time: – the pilgrimage to Saint Claude – the feast of the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ – the 70th and 50th jubilees of religious life of Sisters Marie Paule Vernotte and Françoise Ecuyer.

On Saturday evening, a vigil of praise and adoration was held in the church of a village 20 km from Saint Claude: praise led by a group of three musicians and proclamation of the Eucharistic Sequence by young people who had just spent a day preparing for their profession of faith. A wonderful evening of prayer and festivities!
At 8am on Sunday, 12 pilgrims * set off on a 7-kilometre walk; others gathered to sing Lauds and spend a time in adoration until the faithful arrived for the celebration of the Eucharist presided over by our bishop, Jean Luc GARIN. The congregation entered in procession following the relics of Saint Claude * carried by four men.

In his homily on Blessed Sacrament Sunday, Father Jean-Luc shared his faith in the Eucharistic presence. He invited everyone to murmur these three words of the Curé d’Ars, as they passed by or entered a church; “HE’S THERE!” “YOU ARE here”.  “You are there, very present in the heart of our towns and villages…”.
After the Eucharist, 75 people gathered at the presbytery for a convivial meal.
At 2.15pm, people were invited into the cathedral to take part in a musical performance. musical time. To begin with, a few organ pieces… and surprise: the organist was Mgr GARIN himself! This was followed by songs of praise as at the vigil and Irish melodies sung by a couple who had recently arrived in the parish; they accompanied themselves on guitar, violin and hurdy-gurdy.. It was a wonderful preparation for the singing of Vespers and the Salute to the Blessed Sacrament, with priests from the Haut-Jura joining the pilgrims.

Before the singing of the Magnificat, Sister Françoise was invited to share some of the marvels of her 50 years of consecrated life. -Sister Marie-Paule, 96, a native of the Jura like Françoise, was also due to celebrate her 70th anniversary of consecrated life, but had to stay at the Ehpad in Lons-le-Saunier, weakened after a fall! And yet how present she was in everyone’s prayers…-
Some of the marvels shared by Françoise:
 ” Wonderful to live the Eucharist, community and personal prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, strong daily moments in which I bring the whole of humanity and in which I receive strength and light to walk the road of Mission.  –  It’s wonderful to be able to share the treasure that is the Word of God, in community and with others. – My work as a care assistant and accompanying the very sick and dying is a marvel… Unforgettable moments!  –  How wonderful it was for us, Sisters of the Hospitallers of the Holy Spirit of Poligny, to enter the Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful welcome we received! Happy Daughter of the Holy Spirit: I really am! As in any life, there are also difficult moments, trials of all kinds..
Two strong words energise me every day: “With you Jesus, everything for the Mission”  “Hope does not disappoint”, because the Holy Spirit never leads us down a blind alley”. “MAGNIFICENT!  ALLELUIA! ”.

The Associates she is accompanying made a point of being present to show her their fraternal friendship.

The singing of the ‘Tantum ergo’ * and the blessing of the Blessed Sacrament gave the final note to this beautiful day of celebration and pilgrimage to Saint Claude.

Sister Michelle BOULOUX, FSE. Published on 15 June 2023

Photos. 1: Saint-Claude cathedral. 2: Departure of pilgrims. 3: Sister Françoise with Michelle. 4: Sister Marie-Paule. 5: The relics of Saint-Claude.

* Photo 2.  Pilgrims from the small village of Pissenavache, in the Doubs region of France, who came especially to pray on 6 June. feast of Saint Claude.
For more than 2 centuries, a few people have been delegated each year by the villagers to come on pilgrimage. They take part in the 11am mass, eat on the spot and return to their village to take part in the Eucharist at 6pm, the only mass of the year in their church. The purpose of this act of faith was to pray for the protection of the harvests.

*The relics of Saint Claude. Saint Claude, who was born in Salins (Jura) around 607 and died in 699 at the Condat monastery (now Saint-Claude abbey), was a bishop of Besançon and a 7th-century saint. In the 12th century, his tomb was opened and his body found intact. The monastery became a major place of pilgrimage, renowned for its many miracles. His fame was such that his body was exhibited to the faithful in the church twice a day. It attracted illustrious pilgrims, including King Louis XI, Anne de Bretagne, Saint François de Sales, and Jeanne de Chantal. In 1754, several medical doctors examined his body and attested to its exceptional state of preservation.
However, in 1794, the revolutionaries seized the relic and burnt it completely. Only the left forearm and an index finger escaped the tragedy of destruction. The remains of the relic that escaped destruction were placed in a reliquary designed by the goldsmith Goudji, in the cathedral of Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul-et-Saint-André in Saint-Claude. Every year, Saint Claude is honoured on 6 June and the Sunday following that date?

* ‘Tantum ergo.’  Hymn for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Prayer written by Saint Thomas Aquinas for the liturgy of the hours, sung in the Gregorian tradition, it can also be recited in Latin or French.