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Irish Pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Paris

This Year of Faith is being marked in the city of Paris by a Jubilee of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, which is 850 years old this year. Different groups, parishes, communities and dioceses from France and from around the world will make a pilgrimage to this great icon of Western Christianity and of the city of lights. A temporary structure has been placed on the forecourt of the Cathedral with a great door of faith for pilgrims to cross as they enter the Cathedral. The names of the different saints to whom different churches, chapels and communities are dedicated are written on a giant wall alongside the pilgrim door of faith.

Among the different names, alongside the very French sounding Severin or Gervais, the name “Patrick” features proudly as a reminder that the Irish Church presence in Paris stretches back at least a millenium and even further. Irish monks came to study and teach in the medieval university. The Irish College was founded in 1578 by six young priests who took refuge in the city after being expelled from Flanders. The Chapelle Saint-Patrick was part of the newly acquired and refurbished Collège des Irlandais on the brow of the Montagne Sainte Genevieve in 1769. Through Revolution and through world wars, there has been a worshipping presence of Irish people in Paris, a community poetically described as one of “soldiers, priests and scholars”.

When for the first time prayers are used in Irish on the Main Altar of Notre Dame at noon on 16 March 2013, it will be a proud moment for that small but vibrant community. Pilgrims from Ireland will join the Irish people and their friends who worship in St Joseph’s Paris and in the Chapelle Saint-Patrick each Sunday. The Kildare and Leighlin Choir, under Fr Liam Lawton, will fill the 850 year old space of the great Cathedral with Irish liturgical music. Bishop Noel Treanor will represent the Irish Bishops on this occasion and will preside at Mass while Msgr Brendan Byrne, Administrator of Kildare and Leighlin will preach.

Details will be available on the Irish Chaplaincy Paris website at www.irishchaplaincyparis.fr

Pilgrims from Ireland will be very welcome on this historic occasion!

Sean Maher
Aumônier des Irlandais
Collège des Irlandais

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