Our Lady of Hope

Q: Who is Our Lady of Hope?

A: Our Lady of Hope at Saint-Brieuc / Brittany (France) compared to other Marian shrines is of relatively recent date. Situated on a hill overlooking the town of Saint-Brieuc, the shrine was first dedicated to Saint Peter, approximately from 1500 on. In 1717, the property was added to the corporation of merchants associated as confraternity under the auspices of the Immaculate Conception. They built a new chapel on the hill of Saint-Brieuc, and in 1719 dedicated it to Mary Immaculate. A lively pilgrimage tradition developed. In 1724, Benedict XIV endowed the sanctuary with rich indulgences.

During the French Revolution the statue of Our Lady was decapitated, and in 1796 the chapel was acquired by the then major of Saint-Brieuc, M. Prud'homme. His son, Father Paul Prud'homme, was eventually to become the soul of the re-baptized shrine and pilgrimage. In 1848, the old confraternity changed its name to arch-confraternity of Our Lady of Hope, and under the directorship of abbé Prud'homme committed itself to the promotion of the now shrine of Our Lady of Hope. The membership of the arch-confraternity increased rapidly, and within months counted more than one hundred-thousand associate members.

The activities of this pious association expanded beyond the diocese of Saint- Brieuc, and in 1862, thanks to the enthusiastic support of Pius IX were given universal scope. Meanwhile, the shrine of Our Lady of Hope had become a center of religious zeal and ardent devotion. The humble chapel was replaced in 1854 with a splendid neo-gothic church, which in 1902 was elevated to the rank of basilica. The miraculous image – there was a first reported healing in 1848 – was crowned in 1865. There is a canticle in honor of Our Lady of Hope composed by Father Prud’homme in 1849.

Here are the stanzas in French:

Refrain

Mère de l’Espérance,

Dont le nom est si doux, (bis)

Protégez notre France, (bis)

Priez, priez pour nous (bis)

Souvenez-vous, Marie,
Qu’un de nos souverains
Remit notre patrie
En vos augustes mains.

La France tout entière
A redit nos serments:
Vous êtes notre Mère,
Nous sommes vos enfants.

La crainte et la tristesse
Ont gagné tous les coeurs;
Rendez-nous l’allégresse,
La paix et le bonheur.

En ces jours de souffrance
Sauvez-nous du danger,
Épargnez à la France
Le joug de l’étranger.

The patronal feast is celebrated on September 7/8.

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