Friday, 20 May 2011

St Tropez Bravade

I have spent the week in St Tropez at the 453rd annual Bravade for the Saint. Over three days processions, salutes, Masses and devotions take place all over the town, with many in traditional Provencale costume. The Bravadeurs all have to be St Tropez born and bred and are technically the private soldiers and sailors of the town. The bust of St Tropez is carried with great honour around the town and saluted with exceptionally loud gun volleys at every opportunity. The Tropéziens take great pride in the Saint and the Bravade and the traditions stretch back 453 years. I was priviliged to take my turn escorting the saint along the port and through part of the town (thus giving the Curé and others a break, as the procession lasts for hours and only finishes at midnight with Benediction in the parish church. You can read the story of the Saint and his connection with the town here.

Bravadeurs choose local dignataries and others to throw into the air three times on the way from the thanksgiving Mass. Here Fr Peter Watts, Curé of Grimaud and me in my cassock are subjected to the tradition!

The Bravadeurs prepare to salute.

The Curé of St Tropez, Fr Michael Hayes, blesses the Bravadeurs.

Clerics processing through the gun-smoke filled square.

The procession sets off around the town.

The sailors salute the Parish Priest.

St Tropez in glory.

Mgr. Domininque Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon holds the Pax Brede as each of the Bravadeurs comes up to reverence it.

Visitiing Bishop of Pontoise, Mrg. JeanYves Riocreux takes part in the procession. Everyone carries a little bouquet of red and white flowers - the colours of St Tropez.

Bishop Rey and the Curé of St Tropez in procession around the town.

Bishop Riocreux is escorted in procession by members of the Military and Hospitaller Order of of St Lazarus.

Bishop Rey turns t0 bless the crowds with Pere Michel Hayes by his side.

Incidentally, this week's Catholic Herald has an interview with Pere Michel titled "There's more to Saint-Tropez than film stars" (May 20th, page 7). I wholeheartedly concur!


Anonymous said...

father dear, you look scared as you look up...its not the sacramental programme you're gazing upon?


Anonymous said...

The cassock hides a multitude of sins...
...until you find yourself thrown into the air with the people staring up from below.