Since 1407, the church of Puy-en-Velay celebrates a jubilee called « Grand Pardon » each time that the Annunciation, on March 25th, coincides with Good Friday. This only happens three times a century. The next jubilee will be in 2016 and then again in 2147. It is a time to give grace and worship the Black Virgin.
Jubilee of the Black Virgin
The first jubilee was in 1407 and only lasted one day. Bishops of Puy haved asked Popes to prolong the duration of the celebration. So, at the request of Mgr Brincard, Pope Jean-Paul II extended the celebration in 2005 from March 24th to August 15th.
A permanent information and welcome center is organized at place Saint-Georges, allowing visitors the chance to begin their pilgrimage at the cathedral.
Many demonstrations are organized surrounding the event:
Liturgical celebrations with bishops from the five continents present;
Pilgrimages and discoveries of different sanctuaries throughout the city;
Conferences, concerts and symposiums;
Spectaculars and gatherings geared toward the youth.
March 24th will be the solemn opening of the Jubilee and on the program is the traditional « Procession of the Pénitents Blancs », who will participate in the path of the Cross.
The Black Virgin
The Virgin Mary, loved and revered in The Song of Songs. « I am black and yet beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem. don’t be cautious of my sun-tanned skin: it is the sun that has burned me. The sons of my mother lost their temper with me. They put me in charge of minding the vineyards » (1, 5-6).
The statue of Virgin Mary’s face is black, because she is the servant and guard of the vineyards, so her skin is burned by the sun. It is, at the same time, the face of Jesus, her son who « came to serve and to give his life for others ». During the jubilee of Puy, the city celebrates Mary and her son, both « Servants of the Lord ».
A European, spiritual center. Situated in the southeast of the Massif Central, Puy-en-Velay is the starting point of the Via Podiensis, the most ancient route leading to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle in Spain. Open to Europe, the city saw its reputation spread over the years.
City of art and pilgrimage, over the centuries it has welcomed numerous popes, saints, kings and pilgrims from throughout the world. Preserved despite attacks in history, its conservation area of 35 hectares contains a richness of architecture and history.
Dedicated to the Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation, the Notre-Dame du Puy is one of the oldest Marian sanctuaries in Europe. It is also a part of UNESCO’s Heritage of Humanity since 1998.