The year-long centenary celebrations of Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris started Oct. 20.
“It will be an opportunity to thank God for what our forebears in faith have done,” said Fr. Jean Laverton, the basilica’s rector.
Welcoming and meeting are the main themes centered around the jubilee.
“Pope Francis often invites us to go to the peripheries. We are lucky that the peripheries come to us, so we want to welcome them at least, and do it well,” Fr. Laverton said.
Away from the center of the capital, on the Montmartre hill, the basilica offers a unique space for encounters.
“When people arrive here, they discover a place that, without paying for words, is inhabited. It is the dwelling place of the Blessed Sacrament and a community of Benedictine sisters. They welcome the retreatants at Maison Ephrem,” Fr. Laverton said.
The church has a special atmosphere, much quieter than what we could have known in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris before the April 15 fire. However, the experiences of some people are hampered by the quick visits they make, Fr. Laverton said.
“Sometimes people only hear a little bit of the homily, a hymn from the sisters. It’s a little fleeting, a little light. This is why we must pay attention to welcoming and meeting,” he said.
Fr. Laverton said they want to turn people from visitors to pilgrims.
Several events will take place during this jubilee year. One of them is the “jubilee journey” being organized within and outside the basilica to revive people “physically and spiritually.” The journey is designed with a spiritual approach, Fr. Laverton said.
The journey will lead the pilgrim through a “holy gate” and allow him or her to receive the plenary indulgence.
Outside, several large climbs will be organized for groups: “wounded of life” (Nov. 16), Eastern Christians (Jan. 25), people with disabilities (Feb. 1), consecrated life (Feb. 2), health (Feb. 9), law (March 14), and fathers of families (March 21).
Still outside, but a little far from the building, a longer route will be proposed on the Montmartre hill, whose stages will recall the lives of the saints who marked the district.
For the occasion, the crypt will also be used. A luminous scenography around the verse “come to me” (Matthew 11:28) has been conceived by Bruno Cellier, who has already organized several sounds and lights on monuments (Invalides, Château de Saumur). It will be presented every day (for 35 minutes), starting in November.
However, the basilica will nevertheless continue its daily missions: the four daily masses, the seven-hour confessions offered in several languages, the Eucharistic Adoration day and night, and the welcoming of groups and individuals for retreats.