the exciting adventure of a path in progress

the exciting adventure of a path in progress

By motorbike, by bicycle, by carriage: several initiatives have drawn, on the territory of France, the initial of Mary by linking five places of Marian apparition. These projects have generated such enthusiasm that a path is being born in their wake. To participate in the creation of this itinerary, see you on May 26!

Lourdes, Pontmain, Pellevoisin, the chapel on rue du Bac and La Salette: what do these five places have in common? “These are all sanctuaries where the Virgin Mary appeared in the 19th century, in 46 years. Inspiring high places! », respond with one voice Jean-Marie Frécon and Manu Martin who, in 2015, connected these places by motorbike by drawing the letter “M” on the ground of France. M like Marie, their common passion… apart from Harley-Davidson! They covered 3,500 kilometers in 15 days, across 20 departments. With, for sole logistical support, Providence. In fact, almost the entire budget for their pilgrimage was used to buy gasoline for their motorcycles. For the rest… to the grace of God, of Mary, and of the encounters along the way!

“We found ourselves face to face with ourselves,” they comment. And then, we discovered Mary's message. Love, first of all: loving oneself, and loving others fully. Simplicity, then, like the people to whom Mary appeared! We now want to convey this message. » To do this, the two friends immortalized their incredible adventure in a film, which shocked many spectators.

From motorcycle to bicycle…

As they wished, these biker pilgrims were emulated. Upon returning from WYD in Krakow in 2016, a group of young people wanted to put into practice the words spoken there by Pope Francis: “The time we live in today does not need young people, but young people with shoes; better yet, put on crampons. It only accepts regular players on the field, there is no room for substitutes. Today's world asks you to be actors in history, because life is beautiful as long as we want to live it. »

This is how twelve pilgrim-cyclists, aged 20 to 27, in turn completed this route, during the summer of 2017, which they renamed the “Grand AIME”: i.e. 2,300 kilometers in 32 days, with an average 80 kilometers per day. “However,” they specify, “this pilgrimage was above all a spiritual approach, and not a sporting challenge, even if it involved a real physical commitment. As God goes through Mary to reveal himself and walk with us, we must go through Mary, our mother in Heaven, to go to our Father. » Four new editions took place during the summer of 2018, from July 14 to August 15, departing from Lourdes, then in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

In their wake, two young women, Louise and Adeline, are preparing to repeat this route in four trips, the first being planned from July 6 to 21, from Lourdes to Cholet (800 kilometers). Their motivation? “We want to strengthen our faith,” they respond, “to shine more. And also pray for the healing of one of our friends, Rebecca. » On their site, we can also entrust them with prayer intentions.

…and the carriage!

During the covid pandemic, a group of friends, who had participated in the organization of the Pilgrim Virgins in the 1990s, imagined making a collective pilgrimage on this route. This team, joined by numerous volunteers and encouraged by around thirty bishops, conceived a grandiose project: carrying out a tour of France of 2000 kilometers in 107 days, crossing 25 dioceses, in the footsteps of Mary.

On June 1, 2020, when deconfinement permitted, a carriage pulling a large statue of Notre-Dame left Lourdes, while a similar carriage left La Salette. In three and a half months, the two carriages crossed the towns and villages of France, as well as its two largest cities: Lyon, on June 21, with a stop at Notre-Dame-de-Fourvière; and Paris, from August 12 to 15, stopping at the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal on rue du Bac, on the square in front of Notre-Dame, then at the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre. The two carriages met on September 12 in Pellevoisin.

“Our wish,” explain the organizers, “was for Mary to touch the hearts of those we encountered. We also wanted to devote ourselves to her, and entrust the future of our country to her. Finally, another trigger was the fire of Notre-Dame: through this cathedral, it was the great love story between Mary and France which burned before our eyes, calling for reconstruction. »

This pilgrimage gladdened the hearts of the 15,000 pilgrims who participated. “I left without knowing where I would sleep or what I would eat the next day,” says Hélène, “and I came back finding that nothing was a problem: on the contrary, the locals were so generous that I experienced two days in abundance! »

And Florence added: “I was marked by the people we met: an old lady at her door who prayed with us as we passed, this other who had decorated the perimeter of her house with white paper roses for the passage of Marie, these strangers who made friendly gestures and smiled at us. » Certainly, this project had aroused such enthusiasm that he could not stop there.

Towards a permanent route

The day after this pilgrimage, the association was contacted by many people who wanted to take this Marian route, in part or in full, on foot or by bike. “To respond to these requests, we therefore had to consider specifying the route and marking it,” explains Aude-Claire Brocard, project manager for the association. We therefore had the idea of ​​setting up oratories every 10 kilometers, sculpted on the model of the statue of Mary which had been carried in a carriage. » To date, around fifteen oratories have been installed, on private or diocesan sites, and thirty-five others should be erected within a year.

There remains the question of marking. “In 2020, continues Aude-Claire, the carriage passed by road. But for walkers, we need to identify a route that largely follows hiking trails. » This is a long-term task! The M de Marie website therefore offers, for the moment, a GPX route, which is constantly evolving.

An interactive map to create together

Everyone can contribute to the co-creation of this route by taking the section of their choice, to propose improvements to their route.

A major operation is also being launched on May 26, on the occasion of Mother's Day: “2000 kilometers in 2 hours! ” The concept? 200 teams of pilgrims will each walk 10 km to go from one future oratory to another, thus covering the 2000 kilometers of the path. Registrations are open, and anyone can join this event as a stage leader or simple walker.

“It’s definitely worth it,” comments Aude-Claire. With the help of everyone, the Chemin du M will be able to deploy throughout France. Modeled on the paths of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle! »

To find out more about M comme Marie

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