February Pilgrimages in Metz

St. Brigid of Kildare is honored every February 1 with a blessing of bread and salt, at the Church of St. Maurice in Freyming-Merlebach. You can also see one of her relics on that day.

The webpage says that in 1740, a terrible cattle epidemic was halted by the intercession of St. Brigit. They are still thanking her every year.

(St. Brigit is usually invoked for the protection of sheep, since her feast day falls in lambing time and she supposedly kept sheep at the convent; but she’s a versatile saint!)

The Church of Saint-Eucaire in Metz has a relic of St. Blaise, and so there’s a pilgrimage there every year on Feb. 3, his feast day.

There’s also a survival of the medieval holiday markets. Close to church, pilgrims can buy “petits pains Saint-Blaise,” which are little brioches with spiky tops, representing the wool combs used to rake St. Blaise as torture. (You sold food to pilgrims so they could break their fast right after Mass. If you had walked miles in winter to go stand in line to venerate a relic, you might need something good!) But these brioches are also blessed by the priests after you buy them; so people both can get a blessing from eating them, and can bring them home for people who didn’t go on the pilgrimage. The webpage includes a rather fun picture of people at Mass holding up their plastic shopping bags full of bread. (They apparently don’t do the candle/throat blessing here, but nobody is going to mind that if there’s a blessing of throats and brioche, en masse.)

Here’s a big page in French with pictures. More than 10,000 “petits pains” are made and distributed each year. (And some people probably make them at home.)

The page also says that the relic survived the French Revolution by being hidden for twenty years in a family’s house, while the church was turned into a cowbarn by the revolutionary government.

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