a new Camino de Santiago!

a new Camino de Santiago!

From one Marian sanctuary to another: this is the characteristic of this new Camino de Santiago, which has just been inaugurated. It connects Orcival to Rocamadour in 21 stages (330 kilometers) via the Puys d'Auvergne chain and the Dordogne valley. A suggestion for a future pilgrimage?

“I haven’t been to Compostela and am not a great walker,” explains Loïse Poizat. However, different events led me to conceive this project: opening a path from Orcival to Rocamadour to allow the inhabitants of the Sancy region to pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela from their homes. » There is in fact another Auvergne route, the Via Arverna, but it begins further east and its route has greater elevation changes.

The genesis of the project

It was in March 2023, during a novena organized by the Sainte-Bernadette-des-Dores parish (Puy-de-Dôme) for a renewal of faith in the Sancy region, that the idea took shape. “During a prayer vigil in Orcival, I entrusted this project to the Virgin Mary,” continues Loïse, “telling me that if it was easy to implement, it must be successful. »

A few weeks later, a small team was formed and the route of around 330 kilometers seemed easy to define, the Dordogne valley already being marked as close as possible to the water, over a large part of the route, by the association The Dordogne from Villages to Dams under the name of Itinérêve.

The logistics site

The association having been officially created on June 13, 2023, the team quickly set to work to obtain authorizations from the departmental councilors and mayors concerned by the route of the path. “We then reconnoitred the route, off tarmac as far as possible, then carried out the markings marked with scallop shells,” explains François Cardon.

There remained the question of accommodation. “In addition to traditional accommodation, we have set up a network of family stops, where hosts welcome pilgrims to their table for a time of sharing and meeting,” adds Bernadette Mulsant, secretary of the association.

All this information (description of the route, GPX tracks and contact details of the accommodation partners) is brought together in the topoguide which can be downloaded from the website, subject to joining the association (15 euros for a person, 25 euros for a couple). “Before setting off,” warns Bernadette Mulsant, “you must also obtain the credenciale (pilgrim's passport) at the basilica or at the Orcival tourist office: it is necessary to be accommodated in the Family Stopovers, and in all pilgrim lodges in Spain. »

“Throughout this logistical work,” concludes Loïse, “the pieces of the puzzle fit together naturally. It's as if a red carpet was unfolding before us, the word Compostela acting like a sesame everywhere! »

A path of interiority

It must be said that this route is not only a hiking trail, but, for those who wish it, a “path of interiority”. To accompany the pilgrim's approach, a blessing is offered to him at the start, with a specific prayer, and meditation texts are available on the path's website. “Saint James the Greater, patron of pilgrims, is invoked for spiritual guidance and the search for direction to follow. It is therefore very logical to go walking towards Compostela to take stock of your life,” comments Loïse.

On the route, there are many unmissable stops which also nourish the walker's journey: the Notre-Dame-de-Natzy chapel, at La Tour d'Auvergne (Puy-de-Dôme), where a pilgrimage takes place on the first Sunday August; the Sainte-Madeleine church, in Cros-en-Artense (Puy-de-Dôme), which houses a 13th century reliquary shrine; the Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur church, in Lanobre (Cantal), with its superb capitals. Without forgetting, of course, the two basilicas which frame the path, high places of Marian devotion: Notre-Dame d'Orcival, one of the five major Romanesque churches of Puy-de-Dôme called “the pearl of the mountains”; and Saint-Sauveur de Rocamadour, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

The baptism of the path

The inauguration of the path took place in Orcival, on Ascension Day: a celebration which always brings together more than a thousand faithful. This Thursday, May 9, like every year, after mass, the statue of the Virgin, crowned and dressed in her ceremonial vestments, was carried in procession along the Stations of the Cross by barefoot men, as required. local tradition.

From the basilica, the faithful climbed the hill to reach the tomb of the Virgin, which dominates the town. There, Mgr Kalist, bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, blessed this new path. What emotion for the small team who had worked hard for more than a year to be on time for this meeting!

A first pilgrim

It is the spiritual dimension that touched the heart of Guénaëlle de Montgolfier, the first pilgrim to take this entire path to connect Santiago de Compostela. “I left on Easter Day, March 31, without waiting for the topoguide to be finished, and even before the path was inaugurated,” she explains. I confided in the Virgin of Orcival, telling her: “I have never walked alone for so long, and I am not sure I will succeed. But I am going with you!” She never left my side, and she welcomed me with wide open arms when I arrived in Rocamadour.”

As in any pilgrimage, the pilgrim went through trials, particularly linked to capricious weather: she experienced snow, rain, hail. But the joys of the journey were the greatest. “Especially accommodation with families,” she continues. I was very touched by the welcome of a grandmother on a farm, very simple, but with such a big heart! Or by that of a couple who were welcoming a pilgrim for the first time, and who had prepared me a meal fit for a king. I would also mention the magnificent welcome of a young Lebanese woman, in Floirac, with whom I experienced a very moving moment of sharing. »

At this time, Guénaëlle continues her journey on the Camino francés. As her pilgrimage progresses, she continues to receive prayer intentions, which she leaves at each stop in chapels and churches. “A pilgrimage,” she concludes, “that’s also what it does: to give thanks for the beautiful moments of life, and to transform the pebbles that mark our paths into stars that light them. » The section from Orcival to Rocamadour will now be one of the ramifications of these star paths!

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