Over 16,000 pilgrims will be walking the route from St Sulpice Church in Paris to Notre-Dame Cathedral in Chartres over the Pentecost weekend, May 27-29 — a distance of about 60 miles.
The traditional and deeply historic pilgrimage which dates back to the 12th century was reinvigorated in 1983 by the Notre-Dame de Chrétienté Association, and in recent years, with the exception of the time of Covid, has been continually growing in popularity.
“Having walked the Chartres Pilgrimage every year for 30 years, I can say that there never was an expectation that it would sell out, since the Chartres city center is so large,” said Michael J. Matt, editor of the Remnant Newspaper who leads the American chapter, or group of pilgrims. “The fact that the pilgrimage has reached maximum capacity this year, is nothing less than a stunning testimony to the popularity of the Latin Mass among young Catholics.”
Last year I was grateful for the opportunity to take part in the pilgrimage for the first time (a record crowd of 15,000 also attended that year) and found it to be an enormously uplifting celebration of the faith, a chance to meet a hugely diverse group of mostly young fellow Catholics (the average age is 20.5 years this year), and to walk through the streets of Paris and beautiful French countryside to the picturesque medieval city of Chartres.
Around 300 priests and religious will be walking the route this year and the priests will always be on hand to hear confessions. The Traditional Latin Mass is, of course, widely available. This year, on Pentecost Monday, the former apostolic nuncio to Ukraine and Switzerland, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, will offer the solemn Pontifical Mass in Notre-Dame de Chartres in the presence of the Bishop of Chartres.
“It is our sincere hope,” Michael Matt said, “that the Vatican will see in this event a non-polemical and joyful expression of the youth, vitality, and unitive power of the Latin Mass.”
See Michael’s excellent recent documentary exploring the history, the present, and the future of the pilgrimage: