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How to Plant Christendom In Your Parish Community Next Year

There is a shift among faithful Catholics – it is the desire to renew their faith through prayers, penance, and fasting. The desire to grow closer to God is beyond anything the superficial world can offer the soul. Yet, the spiritual world combined with the natural world can offer quite a penitential and cleansing experience. On May 27-29th, around 16,000 pilgrims traveled on foot from the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris (originally, it began at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris before it burned) to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres (Our Lady in Chartres). This specific pilgrimage has been outlined by a Catholic organization, Notre-Dame de Chrétienté and is named pèlerinage de Chrétienté (The Pilgrimage of Christendom).

In a period of Modernism, it is refreshing to observe an unprecedented resurgence of truth and tradition, as a record number of pilgrims descended upon this three-day trek of about 60 miles in France. However, due to several restraints, whether financial, age, or vocational duties many souls were not able to be physically present at Chartres – yet, through an initiative titled the “Guardian Angels” Chapters faithful souls joined in communion with the pilgrims of Chartres. One of these “Guardian Angel” Chapters is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin through St. Stanislaus Parish & Oratory (Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest).

The majority of laity at St. Stanislaus are unable to attend the Chartres pilgrimage in France for a variety of reasons – so, devoted parishioners, with the assistance of Canon Benoit Jayr, began organizing a one-day pilgrimage that would occur the Saturday before Pentecost Sunday in communion with the Chartres pilgrims. This local pilgrimage has developed significantly in the past four years and now begins about 4.5 miles from the grounds of the Holy Hill Basilica (National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians) and finishes a rosary procession and Benediction in the Basilica. This Milwaukee-based pilgrimage is now an established “Guardian Angel Chapter.” But how did this Guardian Angel Chapter begin at St. Stanislaus and what brought a pilgrimage initiated in France to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee?

Lincoln and Mary Oro, parishioners at St. Stanislaus, were introduced to the Chartres Pilgrimage by Canon Benoit Jayr in 2019 and the couple walked the last day of the pilgrimage while vacationing in France. The Oros recalled that

to witness the grand public display of Christian figures and symbols processing into the Chartres cathedral- complete with priests in cassocks, chanting Latin hymns and psalms, joined along with the youths from many countries carrying their national banners and flags, filling the air with colors, and joyful voices. Our family was inspired to someday take part in this pilgrimage.

In 2020, Canon Jayr informed the Oros of a “branch of pilgrims newly created by the Chartres pilgrimage organization.” This non-walking group L’Ange guardien (Guardian Angel) was created to benefit those who are unable to walk the Chartres pilgrimage. Once part of a Guardian Angel Chapter, the same book of meditations and prayers are distributed to both the non-walking pilgrims and the walking pilgrims, so that all souls would be united in prayer.

Canon Benoit Jayr, Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, encourages all parishes and apostolates around the world to register as a Chartres Guardian Angel Chapter, for he explains that

a pilgrimage is a spiritual itinerary, a summary of a human existence: we walk in the direction of God’s eternity. A pilgrimage is also a way to pray with our feet. Our fathers in the faith knew that well and pilgrims walking to Rome or to Jerusalem were many in the ages of faith. To detach from our daily habits and comfort, to do a physical effort lifts the souls to God. The pilgrimage of Pentecost connected with the big pilgrimage of Chartres in France has a particularity: pilgrims pray for Christendom, that is to pray for the teaching of the Gospels to inspire our human society, in its legislation, in its culture, practices and customs. This is the condition for peace and order to all nations. Simply put, that is to pray for our country.

This encouragement from Canon Jayr rang strong in the ears of Lincoln and Mary Oro and in the spring of 2020, even when chaos appeared to trample peace and Tradition amidst political and economic diversities. Yet, that did not halt St. Stanislaus from registering as a L’Ange guardien chapter in North America and unite with the Chartres pilgrimage. Lincoln Oro states that the first pilgrimage via the St. Stanislaus Guardian Angel Chapter was “planned [with the assistance of the men’s Holy Name Society] an ad hoc outdoor walking pilgrimage in the countryside of southeast Wisconsin simultaneously with the Chartres pilgrims marching in the French countryside.” The hike was 4.5 miles along the captivating hills of the Ice Age Trail towards the Holy Hill Basilica.

All photos by Thomas Berryhill

Since 2020, the pilgrimage to Holy Hill, in union with the Chartres Pilgrimage, has grown by the grace of God. This 4th year of the pilgrimage saw significant blessings as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered at the trailhead (in a well-kept barn), prior to walking the Ice Age Trail and the Troops of Saint George assisting pilgrims along the path by distributing water and encouraging others through song and prayer.

The Wisconsin barn for Mass provided “the penitential nature of the Pentecost pilgrimage of Chartres,” where priests celebrate Mass outdoors, in a tent.

The number of waking pilgrims increased to about 400 persons and another 100 people (from Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida) joined for the final rosary procession to the Basilica to reverently adore Jesus in Benediction.

It was truly a blessing to have the presence of Monsignor Gilles Wach (Prior General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) and Canon Matthew Talarico (District Superior of the Institute in the US) at this auspicious event to honor Our Lord.

Lincoln Oro desires to share the beauty of the Guardian Angel Chapters throughout the world.

We want to continue to spread the importance of pilgrimaging and being united with the Chartres pilgrimage during the Pentecost weekend, as we all pray that Christendom may take root in our country. Next year’s St. Stanislaus Pentecost pilgrimage will be on May 18, 2024.

It is evident that among the evil in this world, there is also goodness and a desire for God’s grace. What started with a small number of people has transitioned into a beautiful tradition among the parishioners at St. Stanislaus. To overcome evil, souls must strive towards holiness. It is through these ancient traditions of the Catholic Faith that souls are given an outlet towards sanctification in this modern world. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!

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