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CHARTRES, France (LifeSiteNews) — Over 20,000 Catholic pilgrims filled to overflowing the magnificent, iconic gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame du Chartres in France on Pentecost Monday, after walking three days from Paris as witness to their love for the Traditional Latin Mass, while praying for full freedom to be granted for the celebration of the Church’s ancient apostolic liturgy.

READ: Half of the traditional Catholics on the Chartres pilgrimage were under 20

The pilgrimage began on the Vigil of of Pentecost, May 27, in the beautiful Church of Saint Sulpice, just blocks away from Paris’ Cathedral of Notre Dame, where the Chartres pilgrimage used to begin before the fire that destroyed the medieval central spire. Amid great enthusiasm and with hundreds of flags, banners, and crosses leading the various chapters of pilgrims, 16,000 set out along the streets of Paris after a Solemn High Mass at Saint Sulpice.

The route to Chartres covered more than 60 miles, with police escorts to assist in the direction of traffic as pilgrims walked the roads of what is part of the medieval pilgrimage route from Paris to Santiago de Compostela. Camping two nights in the French countryside, pilgrims participated in a beautiful, chanted Pentecost Mass out in the fields along the way.

As they walked for hours upon end, men, women, youths, and even little children could be heard reciting and singing the rosary and litany of Our Lady, as well as traditional hymns and chants, folk songs, and rousing cheers to pass the hours in prayer and good cheer. In contrast to last year’s torrential rains, this year saw clear skies and hot, dusty roads, with an occasional breeze to break the heat.

READ: Thousands of Catholics persevere despite worst weather in history of Chartres pilgrimage

Many groups of Scouts and Guides from all over France made the pilgrimage, similar to last year’s hike that saw more than half of the participants below 20 years old. Additionally, groups traveled from many European countries, including England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Spain, and Ukraine. Joining the pilgrimage from other continents, pilgrims journeyed from the U.S.,

Canada, Brazil, and New Zealand. LifeSiteNews was represented in the two American chapters, with John-Henry Westen making the trek from Canada. Although coming from different countries and speaking different languages, all were united in their love for and devotion to the Church’s ancient Roman liturgy.

With tired feet and sore legs, pilgrims arrived at Chartres to the cheers of local residents. The Bishop of Chartres, Monsignor Philippe Christory, greeted the crowds and presided over a Solemn High Mass that saw more than 20,000 participants. The cathedral was filled with 3,000 children, while more than 18,000 adult pilgrims filled the plaza and streets outside.

READ: Bishop of Chartres joins Americans in final stretch of pilgrimage from Paris

The head of St. Thomas Aquinas was carried in the procession at Chartres, which saw hundreds of priests and religious, together with the flags and banners of the many chapters that made the long walk from Paris. After the Mass, pilgrims venerated the relic of Our Lady’s, the great treasure of the Cathedral since the early Middle Ages.

Amid increased restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, Catholics who love the Old Rite have come to see that their numbers are only growing. To the minds of many observers, the enthusiasm, excitement, faith, and youthfulness of those who make the Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage every year manifests the way in which the Holy Spirit is preserving in the hearts of the faithful a strong and deep love for that form of the Mass that has brought forth so many saints in the Church.

It is hoped by the faithful who make the Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage that those in authority in the Church will grant their requests for full freedom to be able to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, and that they will come to see the truth of what Pope Benedict XVI declared, that “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”