On the occasion of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, celebrated on September 8, the faithful of the parish of Pignans procession to the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Angels. During this annual pilgrimage, the Virgin is adorned with flowers and the faithful receive blessed roses. A tradition that has lasted for centuries.
If there is one tradition that the people of Pignant want to perpetuate, it is that of the blessing of roses in honor of the Virgin. Thus, on September 8, several dozen inhabitants of the town of Pignans met at the sanctuary of Notre-Dame des Anges, at the top of the Massif des Maures, to experience a pilgrimage.
After having gathered in the chapel of the sanctuary to attend the mass celebrated by the Abbé Trézières, the faithful walked behind the statue of the Virgin, all adorned with roses, placed at the head of the procession. This procession, which took place around the sanctuary, was marked by several stations during which different cities were blessed. Carried to the promontory overlooking Toulon, Hyères and Pignans, the Virgin of Our Lady of the Angels offered her first blessing there. Then the procession resumed its march, supported by songs and prayers, and circled the sanctuary, thus allowing the many surrounding villages to receive this blessing which they hold so dear. The procession then headed back inside the chapel. Father Trézières blessed the roses with which the Virgin was adorned and the faithful came to deposit their offerings and receive their flowers.
In Pignans, this devotion is very old since tradition says that Thierry, the son of Clovis, would have built the first chapel there. This pilgrimage is very important for the people of Pignant, practicing or not, who are very attached to it, because it is also the patronal feast of the parish. The collegiate church of Pignans is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, in the mystery of her nativity.
Here, the roses are used as the branches and are blessed before being distributed. They are intended to signify the graces that Our Lady bestows and to bring from Heaven a special blessing and protection for the sick. They also refer to the figure and the image of Saint Thérèse who said: “After my death, I will cause a shower of roses to fall. I want to spend my Heaven doing good on earth”.
Our Lady of the Angels, a place of devotion
Another Pignean tradition, the priory, keeps a very strong link between the inhabitants and the Church. Each year, the parish priest chooses four lay people, two men and two women, who are named priors for one year, renewable if they wish. Through this charge, they are responsible for pilgrimages and some elements of parish life. A very strong bond between Notre Dame and the priors is woven. Thus, when the burial of one of them is celebrated, the coffin makes a station in front of the statue of Our Lady of the Angels and the song to “the Queen of Pignans” is sung.
The attachment of these inhabitants to the Virgin is manifest by the presents they make to her, such as the numerous ex-voto exhibited in the chapel. The collegiate church is also home to what locals call the “Crescent of Notre Dame”. For three hundred years, the people of Pignant have hung there the jewels they wish to offer to Mary to thank her for all the graces they have received through her hands. A practice that continues today. This crescent is exhibited during major Marian feasts.
The next pilgrimage to Notre Dame des Anges will take place on the Sunday following November 21, the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.
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Our Lady of the Angels dressed in her most beautiful roses – Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon
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