If you are lucky enough to be in the Limousin region this year, you will no doubt see some evidence of the Septennial Ostensions taking place.
These Grand Ceremonies, which are held every 7 years, are a religious and popular tradition, deeply rooted in the history of Limousin.
The origin of the Limousin Ostensions date back to the end of the 10th Century, when Limousin and much of the Aquitaine were hit by a terrible sickness, which occurred at the end of the harvest. The “burning sickness” or “Mal des Ardents” is said to have been caused by a Rye Bread which had been contaminated by a fungus. Hundreds of people, both young and old, were effected. The disease was believed to be a punishment from God, so in the year 994, in Limoges, the sick, came to implore divine protection and crammed into the churches.Given the extent of the tragedy, the Hilduin bishop and his brother Geoffrey, abbot of Saint-Martial, decided to organize a large gathering around the relics of several saints Limousin. Ambassadors were sent all over the Aquitaine to invite the Archbishops to meet in council at Limoges. On 12 November 994, after three days of prayer and fasting, the body of St. Martial, the first bishop of Limoges and protector of the city, was brought up from his tomb, placed in a gold casket and carried in procession to Mount Jovis, (the Mountain of Joy) outside the city walls. The procession was led by the monks of the abbey of Saint-Martial and William IV Duke of Aquitaine, followed by many pilgrims.
A huge crowd gathered along the route and when they arrived on the hill overlooking the city, the relics of the Limousin Saints were offered in an act of reverence by the population in distress. On 4 December, when the body of Saint Martial was brought back to its tomb, the chronicles of the time reported that more than seven thousand people had been cured. From there on, it became a practice that during times of epidemics, floods, fires and famine, the people turned to their Saints in a similar manner, venerating the relics of their Saints, praying and asking for Devine Intervention.
In 2013 the Ostensions were listed as an event of “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.
Why not follow the Ostensions by bike!
Bike Hire Direct offer free delivery and collection of your bikes direct to your accommodation – throughout the Haute Vienne and along the entire Ostensions route… allowing you to experience all of this unique series of events.
Email Rosie & Phil in our Haute Vienne Team who will be happy to answer any questions you may have and assist with your cycling plans including information on bike routes in the Haute Vienne.
Why not hire a bike from Phil and Rosie of Bike Hire Direct, they will deliver and collect, and their prices are very resonable!
Many new paths, suitable for great family cycling have been opened throughout Haute Vienne this year. None so much, as the lovely paths around Roussac and Rancon in the North of the Haute Vienne. With lovely safe paths through the forests and also the beautiful Lac de St Pardoux only 15 minutes’ drive away, you will find cycling and many other activities for all ages and abilities.
We were so excited when the Tour de France announced it was coming back to the Limousin area in 2016. Stage 4 of the Tour will start on 5th July 2016 in the Pays-de-Loire region of France in the town of Saumur. With 232 kilometres to ride to the finish in Limoges, the beautiful flat roads going through the Haute-Vienne area should favour the sprinters. just as much as the final slightly uphill straight ending the stage in front of the City hall in Limoges. This will be the longest stage of the 2016 Tour, and it could have an effect on the rider’s legs in the closing moments. We will be hoping for a victory for Manxman Mark Cavendish with the new Team Dimension Data team.
For the family, why not check this out http://www.limousinepark.com