Le Pardon de Notre Dame du Roncier is unavoidable. It is carried all around the city and delivered right to your front door. It is proclaimed from speakers in every corner and displayed on banners that hang from every window. The bells in all the bell towers toll both day and night and hundreds of voices are raised in song, chant and repeated recitations of the rosary.

“There is no rest for the wicked,” my father used to say. There is no peace for the penitent today.

I was full of anticipation when this all began last night. But that was three processions, two confessions, two masses and one extended rosary ago. It’s vespers I hear them singing now, thank God, and by dark I have hopes that this formerly quiet little village will have returned to its natural state.

I got up this morning and set out for the first procession of the day. But when I stepped out my front door I found that the parade had come to me, so I stepped back inside, threw open the big French windows in the living room and watched it all from the comfort of the window seat. To tell the truth it was a little too close for absolute comfort, pilgrims brushing my curtains as they passed. A little too close to take an anonymous photograph as much as I was tempted.

I followed the procession to St. Martin’s for the outdoor pontifical mass. The cool blue morning turned into a scorcher of an afternoon as the mass morphed into another procession and then after lunch to a recitation of the rosary and parade number three in the direction of the basilica for the final Hail Marys of the day.

By four in the afternoon the elderly were falling off, and stretchers hurried here and there picking up casualties. My early morning niggle became a full blown migraine and too late I realized that I left my medication in Zurich and the whole town is closed up tight so there is no relief to be found on this holiday.

I lay down to rest but Magnificat followed me, broadcast live from the speaker beside my bedroom window. I went down to the river for a walk but they had strung up speakers there as well. I finally took shelter on a shaded bench in an alcove under the castle walls and passed my time giving directions to out of towners.

I am still in pain.

Three morals in this story:

1. Too much of a good thing is torture.
2. If God is going to speak to me, I wish he would use his still, small voice.
3. There is no rest for the wicked and no peace in Josselin on Pardon day.

Yours with creativity and imagination,

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