Gabon - Pentecost Pilgrimage 2024

As in previous years, the Saint Pius X Mission in Libreville, Gabon, organised its Pentecost pilgrimage to Our Lady of Melen, a shrine located not far from the eastern suburbs of Libreville. 

This shrine was built by the Sisters of the Congregation of the Immaculate Conception of Castres ("Blue Sisters"), the first congregation to begin missionary work in Gabon. Celebrating its Jubilee on 8 December 1986, this congregation, with the agreement of the Archbishop of Libreville, André Fernand Anguilé, erected a statue of the Immaculate on the hill of Melen, to be housed in a shrine that would be a place of Marian pilgrimage for the faithful of the Archdiocese of Libreville. 

Later in 2002, Mgr Anguilé's successor, Mgr Basile MVE ENGONE, entrusted this Marian shrine to the Capuchin Fathers from Poland. Notre Dame de Melen is now the country's main pilgrimage site and a place of Marian spirituality.

While it had been very hot in the days leading up to this major event, on 20 May the sky remained overcast throughout the route, and the heat was quite bearable.

Before leaving the Mission, Father Paterne Longuelet, the local superior, reminded the faithful that a pilgrimage is a time for prayer and penance, and that if you want to receive many graces, you have to practise Christian virtues.

More than 800 faithful made the 12 km round trip from the Mission to the shrine, full of joy and ardour. Divided into eight well organised chapters, they sang hymns and above all recited the Rosary in honour of the Immaculate Mother of God.

Once they arrived at the shrine, they were able to attend Holy Mass. In his sermon, the celebrant, Father Baudouin de Lassus, invited the pilgrims to keep one idea in mind until their next pilgrimage. He suggested as an example the prayer to the Holy Ghost by Cardinal Verdier, asking the divine Spirit to direct all our actions and words so that we bring glory to God, perfect our souls and achieve our own sanctification.  

After lunch, it was time to head back to the Mission. Most of the pilgrims  came back walking. On arrival, Father Paterne exhorted the faithful to make this pilgrimage the image of the great pilgrimage to the Heaven: to suffer but not to be discouraged by life's difficulties. We can always count on Mary, who does not take away our crosses but softens their pain.

At the end of the day, exhausted but satisfied to have prayed so much, honoured the Blessed Virgin and done some penance, the pilgrims returned home with the assurance that Our Lady had heard their prayers and would answer them.


Gabon - Mission saint Pie X