visit shrine this year
By MARIAN CURD
DOWN the avenues of Lombardy
poplars and through the gentle countryside outside Lyons, Cardinal Gerlier, the City's Archbishop will travel today (Friday) the few miles to Ars. There, in the name of the Pope he will solemnly crown the statue of Our Lady of Ars and so officially open the centenary celebrations in honour of the death of the famous Cure, St. Jean Vianney.
Although thousands will to-day cram the tiny village church, the modest basilica which leads out of it, a large open-air auditorium and the narrow streets, it was a pilgrimage fr om the Curd's own diocese of Belley and another which flew from England last weekend which formed, as it were, the prologue to the ceremonies honouring the patron saint of parish priests the world over.
Coach after crowded coach on Sunday made its way past the freshly turned fields, the vine shoots showing green, apple and lilac blossom colouring the gardens, and drew into the Ars car park—half as large as the village, but then Ars is barely as big as WaIsingharn.
Sixty priests accompanied the various pilgrimages including one of 1,000 from Lyons itsele and a large group of boys and girls who ended their pilgrimage with some lively folk dancing.
The group from England, a pilgrimage of 30 or so including six priests, was arranged by the Assumptionists and run under the direction of Fr, Gabriel Slater, A.A.
Low Mass wes celebrated at the High Altar of the Basilica by a ,pilgrimage priest, Fr. Savage from ' Church Stretton, Shropshire. It was to be a dialogue Mass. Every inch of both interconnected churches was crammed. The Chanione mounted the pulpit, and I wondered . .
A very common and valid objection to dialogue Mass in many home parishes is that so many older people would never join in, they would prefer their Rosaries, and no discredit to them. But here, in tiny Ars, there were the very very old and the very young. Most were answering clearly in a pleasant monotone, and many without the aid of a prayer book.
The Chanoine firmly led them and read parts of the Proper, the Epistle and Gospel in French. He preached too; his new pulpit standing only a few yards from the old one used to such resounding effect by the saintly Cure.
To distribute Holy Communion priests came down into the church and slowly moved through the great crowd—it would have been difficult for them to have reached the altar rails.
Outside, hundreds more were waiting to get into the next series of Masses—they were going on all the time—at the Saint's tomb where he lies incorrupt, and with a masked waxen face; at his