A dense crowd, made up of believers and non-believers, crowded this Saturday, March 18, 2023, along the route of the unprecedented procession organized in Perpignan to invoke Saint Gaudérique, patron saint of farmers, and ask him to finally bring down the rain. Like in the Middle Ages…
Heaven had anticipated the call for this Saturday early in the afternoon. Surely not a deluge, but a few drops in the Perpignan water between two thinnings. As a wink from the (e)beyond before the departure of the great procession to implore Saint-Gaudérique, patron saint of Catalan farmers, to bring down the sacrosanct rain on a thirsty department.
A fact that is nothing less than very serious given the situation in the Eastern Pyrenees, which had not experienced such a shortage of water for centuries. In the historic drought, nothing less was needed than an age-old tradition, never (re)seen for 150 years, and a timeless ceremony. Who stopped time precisely, for a few hours, in the streets of the city.
“But it’s great”, “a great idea”, exclaimed passers-by, stopping amid the hundreds of people already gathered on the esplanade of Place Gambetta to watch the procession, led by Abbot Benoît De Roeck, appear from behind the heavy doors of Saint-Jeans Cathedral. . Impressive solemnity. As serious as the hour can be. The bell ringer, dressed in red, the penitents dressed in black from the confraternities of Sanch and Saintes Epines, then the stretchers carrying the statues of Saint-Gaudérique from the parishes of Saint-Hippolyte and Vinça, and finally the reliquary bust of the parish de Saint-Jacques, resting on the shoulders of the peasants… all singing the liturgical chants and following the same slow pace in the wake of the censer to reach the Place de la Loge, pass under the portico of the Castillet, cross the bridge over the Basse and approach the narrow rue de l’école for a first stop and a prayer in front of the Oratory of Notre-Dame-du-Pont. Before the walk of faith resumes its path to cross the Joffre Bridge, already packed with onlookers.
“We don’t know if this is the solution but in any case it is original”
The crowd thickens along the way, thickened by the practitioners but also by the curious, those “worried” by the angry weather, the anonymous simple seduced by the initiative, those who “believe in it” and those who “want to believe in her”. . “I am here because I have been waiting for the rain for three years. My body cries out for the rain”Odile confesses. “And I said to myself why not go pray for a good cause.”
“I am here for the Catholic culture” Megane slides. “This is the first time I’ve seen this and it’s so beautiful. It’s a real moment of communion.”
Élodie and Audrey are geopolitical students in Perpignan. they came “to see what it looked like.” “We are also working on the environmental issue and the water problem is worrisome. So, in a way, this procession called for our presence. We don’t know if that’s the solution, but in any case, it’s original and this is the first time we’ve seen this in France.”
Well, here is the rosary of the faithful that meanders towards the banks of the Têt. As the hymns become more sustained, the statue of Saint-Gaudérique is now carried at arm’s length amidst the meager waters of the river. Before the archpriest of the cathedral, according to the Visigothic ritual, the territory is blessed in the four cardinal points, with the relic of the true cross of the lord, before the gaze of a stupefied audience. As many as them to share this same concern related to the weather. Like Nicolás and Elisabeth, driven to participate by various motivations: “It’s a mix of things. The religious side, the historical aspect, but above all the current situation linked to the drought, which means that we are there to support young farmers as well, which we were for a while. C is moving , exciting. Today we need these moments of meditation and meeting”. A stone’s throw away, Julien, a farmer from Thuir, shares, a little resigned. “I’m a believer, not a practitioner. But anyway, that’s all there is to it. There really is a very significant lack of water. Pray to heaven, maybe it will work. We never know that it might work.” Who knows?”
At 7:00 p.m., at least, divine response or not, downpours began to fall on Perpignan…
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Source: L Independant