22nd December : Our Lady Of Chartres, Mother Of Youth

Our Lady Of Chartres, Mother Of Youth

Country : France

Year : 1935

Our Lady of Chartres is the site of possibly the oldest existing devotion to Mary—tradition states that an ancient order of Celts paid homage, centuries before her birth to the mother of the prophesied Savior, the Virgin who was to bear a Son.

The story of the students’ pilgrimage started in 1935 with a group of 15 young men and girls of the Sorbonne, who sacrificed their Pentecostal holidays in prayer to the Holy Spirit and to Mary.  They marched to the shrine and prayed in common as did their predecessors.  The next year there were 36 who went, and in the year after, 150.  Then the war came; but during the eight hard years that followed, the pilgrimages were not given up, the numbers increased, until in 1948, about 6,500 students formed their line of march to Mary.  Most were in their early twenties or late teens, from the universities, colleges and schools of Paris and the provinces; some from foreign countries.  The number of unbelievers, atheists and Communists has always been high even among the students; while Protestants and Jews make up a goodly part of the pilgrims.  Some come out of curiosity, some following the persistent urgings of a friend; some for the sport of hiking, or to answer an invitation to test their grit and endurance; but whatever their reasons for starting, few end without a definite spiritual “lift”.  Many make the pilgrimage in bare feet, not easy, over gravel roads; the sick and crippled go to

These young people give France a new birth of devotion to Mary; something new and spotless has been born as in the warmth of Bernadette, the Cure’ of Ars, Vincent de Paul—relighted in the hearts of young moderns.  France must now place her hope in youth, the youth of France and the youth of the Church, through Our Blessed Mother, the Lady of Chartres.