Consoler of the Afflicted Octave of Our Lady

Octave of Our Lady, Consoler of the Afflicted

April-May; third through fifth Sundays after Easter
The Octave of Notre Dame la Consolatrice des AffligÉs or Our Lady of Luxembourg is observed in Luxembourg beginning on the third Sunday after Easter and lasting from eight to 15 days. Since 1666, when Luxembourg-Ville was dedicated to the patronage of Mary the Consolatrice and the keys of the city were entrusted to her statue in the cathedral, she has been regarded as the capital city's protector, and her festival is the country's most outstanding religious celebration. Colorful banners are hung across the streets, and the route of the procession is lined with fir trees. Brass bands, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, school and church groups, and small children dressed as priests, bishops, and cardinals start the procession, scattering rose petals. The image of the Virgin follows, dressed in dark blue velvet embroidered with gold and jewels. The symbolic key of Luxembourg-Ville hangs from one of her wrists.
According to legend, the statue was discovered in a hollow oak in 1624 by some Jesuit students. They took it to the Jesuit college church (now the cathedral) and placed it on the altar. That night the figure vanished mysteriously and was later found in the oak. The same thing occurred a second time, at which point the church fathers realized that the Virgin wished to remain outside the fortress walls. They built a tiny chapel for the image in 1625, which became a pilgrimage center. The chapel was destroyed in the French Revolution, but the image was miraculously saved and eventually installed in the cathedral's main altar. When Napoleon I made his triumphal entry into the fortress after the Revolution, a little girl officially presented him with the keys on a crimson cushion. "Take them back," he told her. "They are in good hands."
Luxembourg National Tourist Office
17 Beekman Pl.
New York, NY 10022
212-935-8888; fax: 212-935-5896
FestWestEur-1958, p. 109
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.