Slovakia: Requiem Andrej Kovarik

Right in the heart of Bratislava is the neoclassical Primate’s Palace (Primaciálny Palác), built for Archbishop József Batthyány, from 1778 to 1781 after the design of architect Melchior Hefele. This architectural jewel is where Napoleon signed the Peace of Pressburg in 1805 in the Palace’s Hall of Mirrors after the Battle of Austerlitz. As a result of the Peace of Pressburg, the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, and Emperor Francis II proclaimed himself Emperor Francis I of Austria.

The Old Roman apostolate in Slovakia is privileged to offer Mass regularly including on Sundays in the chapel of the palace and has already made history for hosting the first ordinations in the Tridentine Rite since the Second Vatican Council, conferred by ✠Jerome. There are few options for Catholics to attend the traditional Latin Mass and the work of our apostolate is hopeful to draw those perturbed by the current attitude of the Roman hierarchy.

The palace also contains a rare collection of English tapestries from the 17th century. They were produced at the royal tapestry works in the English town of Mortlake, but were only rediscovered during a reconstruction in 1903. The exquisite fountain of St George, depicting the legendary knight slaying the dragon, stands in the square inner courtyard of the Primate’s Palace. According to one legend the figure of St George represents the archbishop, and his fight with the dragon symbolises the efforts of the Catholic Church to banish the Reformation from the city.

Recently the pastor of the apostolate in Bratislava, Revd Dr Adam Sýkora sung a Requiem Mass & Absolution in the chapel for the repose of the soul of Andrej Kovarik with family and friends in attendance.

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Cells: the concept

“Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops, and your religious act like religious.”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in an address to the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus, June 1972

The Old Roman apostolate and its Operation Fidem Servare seeks to serve the current diaspora of Traditional Catholics across every nation and continent of the world who are disaffected, or who feel isolated or alienated from their local parishes due to the Modernist crisis prevalent in the Church today.

The Old Roman apostolate emphasises the importance of lay involvement in the Church and strives to empower the laity to actively participate in the faith. Operation Fidem Servare encourages lay Catholics to embrace their Christian vocation and contribute to the renewal and restoration of unity in the Church and an end to the current crisis.

Trusting in Christ’s promises

Trusting in the promises of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of the Old Roman apostolate anywhere is the Cell, a small group of at least two or three individual Catholic Christians committed to the principles of Operation Fidem Servare or “preserving the faith.”

“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

St Matthew 18:20

Each cell serves as a foundation locally for a wider apostolate, acting as an initial unit of support, teaching, and fellowship. These cells are typically formed by individuals who share a common commitment to the Catholic faith, its realisation in traditional devotion and praxis, and a desire to spread its teachings. By meeting together, they strengthen their own faith and unite in their mission to live and preserve authentic Catholicism.

The idea of the cell system is rooted in the early Christian communities, who would gather in small groups to worship learn, and support one another (see Acts 2:42-47). This model provides for a more intimate and personal form of spiritual growth, fostering a strong sense of community among its members.

And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers… Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord increased daily together such as should be saved.

Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47

Within each cell, members engage in various activities aimed at nurturing their faith and passing it on to others. These activities include regular prayer meetings, Bible studies, discussions on Catholic doctrine, and outreach programs to share the message of the faith with others through acts of corporal and spiritual mercy.

Most importantly the members will meet socially together regularly, to pray, share meals and through their conversation receive support and encouragement to develop individually and collectively their faith and its realisation; to build a family of Christians.

Rebuilding the Church: living stones

Amidst wars, moral corruption and materialistic pursuits, St. Francis received a divine message from Christ Himself. He heard the command, “Francis, go and rebuild my Church.” This call resonates with our present time, mirroring the challenges and chaos that surround us.

Yet St Francis had invaluable advice, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” These words offer a guiding light, inspiring us to make a difference and initiate change, however daunting the task may seem.

Through the establishment of cells, the Old Roman apostolate aims to create a network of interconnected communities that collectively work towards the preservation and perpetuation of the Catholic faith. By nurturing individual faith and fostering fellowship, the cells play a vital role in ensuring that the Catholic faith continues to thrive and inspire generations by relaying a firm foundation upon Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22).

“Be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:5

The term living stones in 1 Peter 2:5 is used as a metaphor to illustrate the secure and intimate relationship believers have with Christ, Who is described in the previous verse as the “living Stone” (1 Peter 2:4). Together, these two verses picture how Christ and His followers are joined by God Himself, the foundation of God’s building is His Son, Jesus Christ, the “living Stone.” The “living stones,” in turn, are believers who come to Jesus and place their lives upon this foundation.

Believers, then, are the “living stones” of the church that Jesus promised to build upon (Matthew 16:18). As living stones, we have new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As integral parts of the building of God, we have security in Christ (John 6:37). As the Master Builder, God places His living stones just where He wants us to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). As living stones, we are connected to one another in the body of Christ (Romans 12:5). Our Lord, the foundation Stone, is alive forevermore and will never crumble. He will support us eternally.

The Old Roman apostolate in its effort toward the restoration of the Church regards each “living stone” founded upon Christ by baptism as integral to its mission, and each group of “living stones” as a foundation upon which to build “a spiritual house” a worldwide oratory that will glorify God, make reparation to Jesus, and bring souls to salvation.

“Other Sheep I Have”

In addition to the cell system, the Old Roman apostolate also emphasizes the importance of evangelization and spreading the message of Catholicism beyond the confines of the cell groups. This can be achieved through various means, such as organizing retreats, hosting public talks, engaging in charitable activities, and utilizing modern communication platforms to reach a wider audience.

The Old Roman apostolate sees itself as of ancillary service to the Church, not an alternative, and to this end, any Catholic minded toward Tradition as the answer to the current crisis is welcome to join a cell and participate in the activities of the wider apostolate. Whether they belong to a conventional parish, a Traditional Catholic mission or parish or attend an Old Roman mission or oratory. All are welcome who are willing to work toward the restoration and unity of the Church.

Cells may be supported by an Old Roman priest who will visit as often as may be practicable or members may travel regularly together to an Old Roman mission to receive the sacraments. It is not required that members receive the sacraments exclusively from Old Roman priests. Ultimately cells belong to an administrative area of the apostolate, a territory or region overseen by a traditional Catholic bishop who both guarantees the provision of sacraments according to the traditional rites, and assures the orthodoxy of teaching and praxis.

The principles of Operation Fidem Servare together with the Cell system, and through evangelism, the Old Roman apostolate seeks to create a vibrant and resilient Catholic community that remains faithful to its mission and actively works towards preserving and spreading the faith. Through the dedication and efforts of individual cells, the Catholic faith can continue to flourish and inspire future generations to embrace its precepts and values.

In this way the great work envisioned by Pope Leo XIII may be realised;

This good and great work requires to be helped also by the industry of those among the laity in whom a love of religion and of country is joined to learning and goodness of life. By uniting the efforts of both clergy and laity, strive, Venerable Brethren, to make men thoroughly know and love the Church…

Pope Leo XII, encyclical “Humanum genus” April 20th,1884

Join the Old Roman Apostolate: Embrace Tradition, Grow in Holiness!

Are you a traditional Catholic seeking to deepen your faith and engage in Christian outreach? Look no further!

Join the Old Roman Apostolate and our Operation Fidem Servare, be part of a sacred mission to preserve and promote traditional Catholic doctrine and praxis. Embrace the opportunity to deepen your faith, engage in Christian outreach, and experience the richness of traditional Catholic culture.

As an apostolate, we are dedicated to upholding the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and spreading the Good News to all nations. By joining us, you will have avenues to actively participate in spreading the Gospel, showing God’s love and mercy to those in need. Together, let us revive the missionary spirit and save the Church.

The Old Roman Apostolate is inviting you to join us on a journey of personal holiness and authentic Catholic culture. At the Old Roman Apostolate, we cherish the timeless traditions of the Church and promote traditional piety. As a member, you’ll have the opportunity to experience and grow in the richness of traditional Catholic doctrine and praxis.

Our communities foster fellowship, providing a supportive environment for your spiritual growth. Through our various avenues for service, you can actively participate in Christian outreach, making a positive difference in the world. Whether it’s within your family, neighbourhood, local community, one of our Mission parishes, or territories we offer opportunities or support for you to utilize your talents and passions in service to others.

Join us in preserving and promoting the beauty of the Catholic faith. Together, we can develop our personal holiness, strengthen our understanding of Tradition, and impact the world with the love of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Contact us today to embark on this inspiring journey with the Old Roman Apostolate!

Organisation of the Old Roman apostolate

The Old Roman apostolate is organised globally into regions and territories with episcopal administrators who oversee the work and life of the clergy, missions, cells and oratories of the faithful. It is a completely voluntary endeavour, the faithful and clergy give of their time, talents, skills, abilities and monies as they feel inspired to, and as may be necessary for the fulfilment of the mission.

A Cell: two or three individuals living in close proximity to each other, who meet together on a regular basis to pray and enjoy fellowship. Cells are foundation stones of the Old Roman apostolate and the kernel of the missions.

A Mission: several Cells and individuals, motivated by prayer and fellowship, desiring to live out their Christian mission as orthodox Catholics, who form together a definite apostolate for mission and outreach in their locality. Visited regularly by, or served, and directed by a traditional Catholic priest, the Mission may be the basis for the foundation of an Oratory.

An Oratory: when a significant number of Old Roman Cells and individuals have formed together a mission, and desire a regular sacramental life sustained by the sacraments administered according to the traditional rites and liturgies of the Church, and are able to sustain sacrificially the subsistence of a priest, and provide what is necessary for the worthy and proper offering of the liturgies, and a place of regular public worship.

A Territory: a country wherein an Old Roman apostolate is present and functioning with cells, missions and oratories served by clergy, and requiring, and able to support the ministry of an episcopal administrator to oversee the apostolate.

A Region: generally the designation of a continent(/s) or significant geographical area encapsulating several territories and Old Roman apostolates, overseen by a senior episcopal administrator in collaboration with the territorial episcopal administrators.

Philippines: Cebu Faith in Action

The community outreach work undertaken by the Old Roman apostolate sets it apart from other Traditional Catholic movements. This work is considered crucial in expressing our identity as Christians and serves as a testimony of our faith through both corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

By engaging in community outreach, the Old Roman apostolate emphasizes the importance of compassion, empathy, and selflessness, aiming to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need. Through these acts the apostolate strives to bring the love and teachings of Christ to the wider community.

The Old Roman Mission Chapels at Cebu City under the direction of Fr Harold Plaza had a Medical, Optical and Dental Mission and Brigada Eskwela on Saturday, August 19th held at Marigondon Elementary School, Marigondon, Lapulapu City, Cebu.

Brigada Eskwela is an activity undertaken in public schools a week before classes begin, where people voluntarily help to clean up and repair classrooms and school environs to prepare schools for the beginning of the new academic year.

The Synodal Process is a Pandora’s Box

✠Gerhard, Cardinal Müller has called it a “hostile takeover” of the Catholic Church. The late ✠George, Cardinal Pell termed it a “toxic nightmare”. Now, ✠Raymond, Cardinal Burke has written a foreword to a new book denouncing the Synod on Synodality as a “Pandora’s Box” that threatens to unleash grave harm on the Mystical Body of Christ.

The Synodal Process is a Pandora’s Box, co-authored by José Antonio Ureta and Julio Loredo de Izcue, presents readers with a series of 100 questions and answers aimed at informing the general public about a debate they say has been “largely limited to insiders” despite its “potentially revolutionary impact.”

In the foreword, Cardinal Burke says that “a revolution is at work to change radically the Church’s self-understanding.” The American cardinal expresses his fear that the Synod will be heavily influenced by the German bishops, “spreading widely confusion and error and their fruit, division.” He notes that the negative results have “already begun to happen through the preparation for the Synod at the local level.” Cardinal Burke’s foreword appears in the book The Synodal Process as a Pandora’s Box, which uses a question-and-answer format to persuade readers that the Synod will have a “potentially revolutionary impact.” The book’s publication was announced August 22.

Announced by Pope Francis in 2021, the Synod on Synodality is being held in three phases: local, continental and universal. In October, the universal stage will begin with the sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will bring together 300 bishops and laity at the Vatican. A second assembly is to be held in 2024. Earlier this year, Pope Francis took the unprecedented step of granting equal voting rights to both episcopal and non-episcopal members.

Protected: Ad Clerum: 19.08.23

Archdiocese of Manila II

The following unfortunate and barely intelligible document has been brought to our attention. Addressed to Fr Isidro T Marinay, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Manila in response to his Circular No.2023 – 64 previously referred to in our last ad clerum dated 16.viii.23.

The “Open Letter” is unsigned but we believe it to be a published response on social media by the falsely titled North American Old Roman Catholic Archdiocese of California – Utrecht Succession of whom we passed comment similarly last time we wrote to you.

The Old Roman apostolate will NOT be publishing a similar reaction publicly in response to the Chancellor’s circular for the following reasons:

a) To identify ourselves as one of the groups mentioned in the circular would be detrimental to our own mission and confuse us with the vagante groups mentioned in it.

b) We do not recognise any other Old Roman jurisdiction in the Philippines and to identify ourselves with the circular and the groups mentioned in it would be to confuse us with and give credibility to the NAORCC Archdiocese of California – Utrecht Succession.

c) To identify ourselves in anyway with the authors of the aforementioned “Open Letter” and its contents, would be contrary to our current policy of amicable and diplomatic approach toward the Roman authorities.

As stated in our previous ad clerum on this matter, we understand why the Archdiocese has sought to warn people away from such groups as ICAB and the NAORCC Archdiocese of California – Utrecht Succession. We do not recognise the Chancellor’s implied criticism as referring to ourselves who have not behaved in the ridiculous ways the other groups have, particularly in the recruitment of unsuitable persons for ordained ministry.


Be it known that any cleric of our apostolate found in any way to engage in any reaction to the circular in public, on social media or by correspondence; or in any way enable others to confuse our apostolate with the groups aforementioned or identify our apostolate with the groups referred to in the circular; will incur automatically a suspension a Divinis reserved to me, the Primus.

The NAORCC Archdiocese of California – Utrecht Succession

Aside from the information we have imparted previously about this sect, be advised that there is considerable cause to believe not only in the inauthenticity of this group as Old Roman but also INVALID. The group relies upon the supposed lineage of one Bishop Albert Dunstan Bell who claimed to be consecrated by Archbishop Carfora but about which there is NO evidence in the actual NAORCC archives curated by Archbishop Ford. For this very reason, when the original NAORCC Archdiocese of California – Utrecht Succession reunited with the NAORCC under Archbishop Ford, all the clergy were sub conditionally ordained. Interestingly, the faction in the Philippines preferred to go into schism under the laicised Mr Ivan A. Castañeda than receive the surety of valid holy Orders under Archbishop Ford.


As is the current branding policy of this website, we have agreed today with His Excellency ✠Joash, episcopal administrator of the Philippine Territory, to rebrand our apostolate there and refer to our operations as being of, “The Old Roman Apostolate in the Philippines” permitting variations thereof and dropping the words Catholic and Church from all signage and PR materials. This in order that our work may not be confused with other groups and their activities that have sadly besmirched the reputation and credibility of the term Old Roman Catholic in that country. However, the official registration of our apostolate with the Government and civil authorities will not be changed.

It must now be regarded as imperative for all our clergy to seek to rehabilitate the appreciation of Old Roman Catholicism in the Philippines by maintaining a dignified silence on this issue and distancing ourselves from the other groups aforementioned. Meetings with the Roman hierarchy are already planned for my visit in February 2024.

In Conclusion

Clergy of this apostolate will maintain a dignified silence on this issue:

  • Remember the information contained in ad clerum are under absolute confidence.
  • Avoid all arguments on social media concerning the status of Old Roman sacraments.
  • Avoid all arguments on social media concerning Old Roman ecclesiology.
  • Avoid using polemical language in discussing other ecclesial groups.
  • Refer all arguments and inquiries to authentic Old Roman sources.
  • Avoid relativism ref “validity” in discussions concerning groups who clearly espouse schismatic tendencies; remember not everyone who claims to be Catholic IS Catholic.
  • Remember patience is a virtue and do not allow yourself to commit misjudgement and imprudence.

Protected: Ad Clerum: 16.08.23

Archdiocese of Manila

Ref Circular No.2023 – 64 dated August 16th, wherein the Chancellor of the archdiocese, Fr Isidro T. Marinay issues an “advisory” to the clergy, religious and faithful about “The Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church and similar groups” and goes onto mention “other groups such as the Old Roman Catholic and Old Roman Catholic Church”. The communication goes onto state that these groups are not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and “the sacraments they administer are therefore invalid and illicit”.

Needless to say this is a not a “new” situation, indeed this only states what has often been alleged by ignorant Roman Catholic authorities time and again in different places. However, while we would otherwise agree with them concerning the “invalidity” of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church aka “ICAB”, confirmed by Paul VI in the 1970’s, and other derivative ministers claiming their apostolic succession, we cannot of course agree with the misrepresentation of Old Roman Catholic sacraments.


“Illicit” of course does not necessarily imply “invalidity”, though the Chancellor may have in mind the canonical validity of Confessions and Holy Matrimony to which the Church particularly attaches liciety to the administration of these sacraments, i.e., by the requirement for ministers to possess faculties. However, as I have explained in some detail before, ecclesia supplet the Church supplies jurisdiction to the administration of these sacraments by ministers otherwise perceived to be unauthorised to do so in certain circumstances, see FAQ’s The canonical liciety of Old Roman Catholic sacraments.

It is interesting to note that this circular follows another issued on August 10th No.2023 – 61 entitled “Updated Protocols for liturgical celebrations” wherein the Cardinal Archbishop implores the faithful to return to Sunday Mass obligation and to the churches for sacraments following the COVID19 pandemic situation. Taken together, it is perhaps not unreasonable to assume that the Archdiocese has noticed a significant decline in Sunday Mass attendance and considers other ministries are poaching from their flock.

As I have repeatedly and expressly stated on a variety of occasions to both Old Roman clergy and laity alike, it is imperative that our apostolate so conducts itself that no unnecessary criticism from Roman authorities may be permitted to affect our important work. This particularly includes unseemly debates on social media which, rather than promote the Old Roman cause, provokes commentators to deliberately seek unhelpful interference from Roman authorities. Better to avoid such occasions by dignified silence or referral to authoritative sources.

Of schismatics and apostates

It doesn’t surprise me that the antics of the apostate ICAB group have drawn the ire of the Archdiocese. Neither, unfortunately, does it surprise me that certain actors claiming to be Old Romans have likewise caused consternation. The falsely titled North American Old Roman Catholic Archdiocese of California – Utrecht Succession is well-known to the Roman authorities in the Philippines for notoriously recruiting former rebellious Catholic priests who forsook their vows, avoided seeking rescripts i.e., official release from Rome – to take wives. We also know that among both groups are ex-priests and others accused of embezzlement, fraud, and other notorious crimes including those that “cry to heaven for vengeance”. It is no wonder the Archdiocese should seek to protect their flock from such wolves.

Authentic Old Romans

It has been the constant endeavour of myself and other Old Roman hierarchs, colleagues to distance authentic and orthodox Old Roman Catholicism from such characters as previously described. Through proper and thorough incardination and application requirements, careful discernment and scrutinies, taking up character references, psychometric and psychological assessments and criminal background checks, we have successfully weeded out from among our respective apostolates the nefarious and sacrilegious, the narcissists and fraudsters.

By abiding by and implementing canonical procedures and processes, by following and implementing professional standards, and by being seen to benefit local communities, genuine Old Romans have developed credibility and reliability. This surely was proved when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s government recognised my own episcopal title and HM Passport Office insisting – after establishing the recognition of my ministry ecumenically – to include my episcopal title in my passport.

Wherever we operate we have sought to establish cordial relations with local Roman authorities whenever possible. We have deliberately sought collaboration and partnership with other credible Christian denominations and government and civil authorities in social action and community focused endeavours. We have particularly sought to serve the poor and unappreciated in our societies and otherwise to be of service to our local communities. This has and will continue to improve the regard of our apostolate and distinguish us from the vagantes.

Through scholarly research, open dialogues, the dissemination of accurate information, we have debunked the myths and stereotypes that have plagued the traditional Catholic and particularly Old Roman movement. It is essential to emphasize that our efforts are not driven by nor seek to create division nor rivalry within the broader Catholic community. On the contrary, we seek to foster unity and understanding among all who share the orthodox Catholic faith. Remember that we exist to preserve and maintain for future generations until the proverbial eschaton the reconciliation of Rome and all Catholics with the perennial Catholic Faith, whole and entire and in union with the magisterium of the Apostles and eternal Rome.

We do not associate with anyone who is manifestly apostate, schismatic nor who’s apostolic succession is in anyway questionable. That’s why we have no obvious relations with Old Catholics, Sedevacantists, traditional Anglicans nor anyone whose Orders derive from ICAB. That’s why we keep our distance from others who call themselves or who formerly were Old Roman but have gone astray. We are very clear in our approach and attitude and anyone seeking clarity, if after reading everything on should contact me.

In Conclusion

  • Avoid all arguments on social media concerning the status of Old Roman sacraments.
  • Avoid all arguments on social media concerning Old Roman ecclesiology.
  • Avoid using polemical language in discussing other ecclesial groups.
  • Refer all arguments and inquiries to authentic Old Roman sources.
  • Avoid relativism ref “validity” in discussions concerning groups who clearly espouse schismatic tendencies; remember not everyone who claims to be Catholic IS Catholic.
  • Remember patience is a virtue and do not allow yourself to commit misjudgement and imprudence.

Pèlerinage à Rocamadour 2023

S. Laurentii Martyris

The Archbishop’s annual visitation to France and the Dordogne apostolate (August 1-8th) concluded this year with a pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Rocamadour a renowned pilgrimage site in France. Nestled within the stunning cliffs above the medieval city, this ancient sanctuary draws pilgrims from all over the world.

The Archbishop’s visitation served as a symbolic gesture of faith and unity, as he led the clergy and faithful on a spiritual journey to pay homage to the Virgin Mary. The pilgrimage not only strengthened the bond between the Church and her followers but also provided an opportunity for reflection, prayer, and renewal of faith. It beautifully portrayed the concept of the “pilgrim Church” for those recently Confirmed and for the faithful of the Old Roman apostolate.

The Sanctuary is composed of a cluster of seven chapels and churches. Above them higher up the cliff face is the castle that was built to protect the Sanctuary and below is the town that grew up to accommodate the pilgrims who came to visit.

The 12th to 13th centuries marked the town’s apogee, when much of the building work took place. Royalty and religious and military leaders were among the visitors. But this highpoint was short lived. A combination of wars, epidemics, climate change and consequent famines considerably reduced the population and prevented people going on pilgrimages. Protestant mercenaries sacked the town during the Wars of Religion, and despite sporadic attempts to rebuild it, Rocamadour remained largely forgotten until the 19th century.

The impressive task of restoring the sanctuaries in the 19th century can be attributed to the efforts of two individuals, the Abbot of Caillau who had been miraculously cured by the intercession of Our Lady of Rocamadour, and Bishop Bardou of Cahors who organised the fundraising. The Abbot of Chevalt of the Montabaun diocese directed the restoration works. These men particularly are to be credited with the restoration of the old buildings filled with so much passion and feeling.

Legend has it that Rocamadour was home to a hermit, Zaccheus of Jericho, who is said to have personally spoken to Jesus. He died in 70AD and was buried at Rocamadour. The Virgin Mary was worshipped in Rocamadour from the 9th century but in 1166 a perfectly preserved body was found which was said by some to be Zacchaeus and by others to be Saint Amadour, a hermit who lived in the caves. The Abbot of Mont Saint-Michel, Robert de Thorigny a chronicler of the time wrote;

“In 1166, an inhabitant of the area at the end of his days, ordered his family (perhaps by Divine inspiration) to bury his body at the entrance to the shrine. Hardly had they begun digging, when the body of the blessed Amadour was found in its integrity. It was placed in the church, close to the altar for the worship of pilgrims. In this spot, so many extraordinary miracles occurred through the power of the Most Holy Virgin that King Henry II of England, who was at Castelnau de Bretenoux, came himself to worship.”

Either way the discovery caused the pilgrims to come flocking and Rocamadour became a major pilgrim destination. The body was found with a black wooden statue which has since been linked to many miracles and the Black Madonna attracts many pilgrims including, in the past, King Louis XI of France and King Henry II of England.

During the Middle Ages Rocamadour was the third most important pilgrimage destination in the world after the Holy Land and Santiago de Compostela. It still receives around one million pilgrims each year, some of them on “the Camino”.

Between the town and the Sanctuary is a steep staircase called the Grand Escalier which is composed of 216 steps. Pilgrims once climbed these steps on their knees as an act of penance with heavy chains around their necks that were taken off when they reached the top.

The pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Rocamadour was a deeply spiritual experience for both the Archbishop and the pilgrims. As they made their way up the steep winding path to the sanctuary, they were reminded of the challenges and sacrifices that come with their faith and the courage and persistence of previous pilgrims who for centuries had trod the same path. The views of the surrounding landscape served as a constant reminder of God’s creation and the beauty of the world.

At the centre of the Sanctuary is a small square called the Parvis des Eglises. Surrounding this are the different chapels and churches which have been built in a beautiful ornate style with towers, arched windows, crenellated walls and many more decorative features.

The Basilica Saint-Sauveur is an 11th to 13th century church built in Romanesque-Gothic style. It was designated a basilica in 1913. The basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next to the basilica is the Chapel of Notre-Dame which is home to the statue of the Black Madonna.

The Black Madonna is linked to many miracles and especially to the saving of lives at sea. Because of this there are many ex-votos (offerings) of ships hung on the walls and hanging from the ceiling is a bell which is said to ring each time a miracle happens. Women came to pray for her intercession, especially to grant them fertility.

Above the chapel is a sword called the Durandel sword. According to legend when Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne was badly injured in battle he begged the Archangel Michael to save his sword from the enemy. He threw it into the air and it miraculously landed in the rock face at Rocamadour 300 km away.

Upon reaching the sanctuary, the Archbishop lead the congregation in prayer and reflection. The pilgrims offered their intentions and sought solace in the presence of the Virgin Mary. The atmosphere of the chapel is filled with a sense of peace and serenity, allowing pilgrims to connect with their inner selves and deepen their relationship with God.

During the pilgrimage, individuals had the chance to interact with clergy members and fellow believers. They shared their faith stories, participated in discussions, and enhanced their sense of community. The Archbishop’s presence symbolized guidance and support, reminding everyone that they are not alone on their spiritual journey.

Throughout the pilgrimage, the pilgrims were encouraged to engage in acts of self-reflection and repentance. The chance to confess their sins, seek forgiveness, and renew their commitment to living a life of faith. This process of introspection allowed them to shed their burdens and emerge with a renewed sense of purpose and devotion.

The pilgrimage Notre Dame de Rocamadour is not just a physical journey, but a transformative experience for the pilgrims. It is a time for them to step away from distractions of everyday life and focus on their spiritual well-being. The serene and sacred atmosphere of the sanctuary provides the perfect setting for this introspection and renewal

As the close of the pilgrimage, the Archbishop addressed the congregation, offering words of encouragement reminding the importance of their faith. He emphasized the need to carry the lessons learned during the pilgrimage into their daily lives, spreading love, compassion, and understanding to encounter.

The annual visitation and pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Rocamadour served as a powerful symbol of faith, unity, and devotion. It was a time for the clergy and the faithful to come together, reaffirm their commitment to their beliefs, and find solace in the presence of the Virgin Mary. The pilgrimage offered an opportunity for prayer and renewal, leaving the pilgrims with a strengthened faith and a deeper connection to their spirituality.