400 year old statue of Our Lady of Sorrows preserved from destruction during the French Revolution
By Alison Bradish
In 1934 times were tough in the town of Ponteix, Saskatchewan. So, at the request of their Bishop the people organized a pilgrimage to pray for the end of the drought.
The pilgrimage would become an annual event, drawing hundreds from neighbouring communities, and as some recall, even visiting Bishops from France.
It did not matter what else was happening in the world, if the weather was bad, if the date fell midweek, if there was a war. The pilgrimage of Notre Dame D’Auvergne/Our Lady of Sorrows would go on every July 16th.
This year Fr. Guy Amédée thought it was especially important the pilgrimage continue despite the pandemic.
“For almost 90 years no one missed it. Now we continue the journey…It is still ongoing,” says Fr. Amédée, pastor of Our Lady of Notre Dame D’Auvergne in Ponteix.
Over the years the pilgrimage has spanned anywhere from a half a day to a couple of days. The pilgrimage would include a procession, the continual recitation of the rosary, Mass, and much time for socializing.
In 2020 the pilgrimage was cut to a two-hour time span in the evening. A bilingual Mass was celebrated with Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber, there was the recitation of the Rosary, the litany of the Blessed Mother and the Act of Consecration to Mary. Due to the restrictions surrounding Covid-19 there was no shared meal and the event was only opened to parishioners of Our Lady of Notre Dame D’Auvergne. About eighty people in total participated.
“It was different, but we felt uplifted in the sense that we are living in a difficult time with Covid-19 ….at the end we dedicated ourselves to the Mother of our Lord …asking her to cover us with her Motherly protection and love, that was something important we needed at this time, “says Fr. Amédée.
Another change to this year’s pilgrimage was the statue of the Pieta was not taken out of the church building and processed through the streets. The statue is said to be 400 years old and at one time was hidden in a haystack during the French Revolution. Eventually the statue made its way to Ponteix and was placed near the altar of the church in 1909. In 1922 two boys saved the statue from the church when it burned down. Today it is housed in the current church building of Our Lady of D’Auvergne in Ponteix.
Now 90 years-old, Sister Marguerite Dumont of the Sisters of Our Lady of Chambriac has fond memories of past pilgrimages. The first time she participated in the pilgrimage was in 1947. She recalls the beautiful hymns sung to Mary, including various versions of Notre Dame du Canada (Our Lady of Canada) and Ô Vierge de L’écoute.
“You just had to think of the rosary and your conversion. We’ve got that miraculous statue here of the Blessed Virgin Mary and we lived with her always,” says Sr. Dumont who still lives in the convent in Ponteix.
She was okay with the modified pilgrimage this year.
“Since Covid-19 we had to be very careful… but I think the graces are there. Our Lady doesn’t ask us to do miracles. She asks us to pray the rosary and look after our families and parishioners,” says Sr. Dumont.
Alison Bradish lives in Moose Jaw with her husband and two children. They attend St. Josephp's Parish. She earned Bachelor of Arts in Journalism at the University of Regina. She is naturally curious about local and world events. She writes from her home where she strives to bloom where she is planted. She often feels pulled to the topics of religion, education and politics
Page URL: http://archregina.sk.ca/news/2020/08/21/notre-dame-d%E2%80%99auvergne-pilgrimage-ponteix-different-still-uplifting