The Passionists' Compassion

The Cathedral of
Our Lady at Chartres

A prominent medieval shrine to Mary is located at Chartres, an old French city surrounded by fertile farm country about 50 miles southwest of Paris. In an ancient crypt under the magnificent 12th century cathedral, medieval pilgrims honored a prized relic of Mary -- her tunic -- which tradition said had been brought to Europe from the east by Charlemagne in the 8th century.

There, too, pilgrims reverenced a holy well, traditionally the burial site of the region's early Christian martyrs. From all of Europe, people came to Chartres to be healed and to be renewed in their faith. The great cathedral, with its vast treasury of sculpture and stained glass illustrating the Old and New Testaments, is a visual catechism welcoming all her enter the massive doors. Like Mary, modern pilgrims are invited to remember and to ponder the great things God has done for his people.

In this century, thousands of Christian young people from the universities of France participate each August in a student pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Chartres. They walk the old road from Paris to Chartres like their ancestors did centuries ago.

return to Europe as "holy land" in the 11th - 15th centuries
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