Oktav: Octave pilgrimage to Luxembourg Cathedral

  • 20/Apr/2024
  • Luxembourg Cathedral, Luxembourg
Oktav pilgrimage Luxembourg Cathedral
Oktav pilgrimage Luxembourg Cathedral

Event description

Known locally as Oktav, the Octave pilgrimage is Luxembourg's biggest religious event. It takes place every year in Luxembourg City, between the 3rd and 5th Sundays after Easter.

This year's Octave pilgrimage will take place from April 20 to May 5, 2024. Originally lasting 8 days, the Octave now lasts two weeks.

Celebrated since the 17th century, the Oktav today attracts some 90,000 pilgrims. They come from all over the region to pay homage to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, patron saint of the country and comforter of the afflicted.

The origins of the Octave pilgrimage

As the plague raged in Luxembourg in 1666, believers came to beg a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, endowed with miraculous powers, to heal the sick.

The old wooden statue, originally erected on the Glacis(Luxembourg-Limpertsberg), was later moved inside the city. The statue of Notre-Dame de Luxembourg was then permanently displayed in Luxembourg Cathedral on a gilded pedestal. The statue was the object of great religious fervor.

During the Octave pilgrimage, pilgrims gathered to pay homage, say prayers and ask for blessings.

The Octave pilgrimage experience

Since the 17th century, the Octave or "Oktav" pilgrimage has continued to be celebrated with great enthusiasm. Today, it has evolved into a traditional event, mixing pilgrims and visitors curious about history and folklore.

The Octave pilgrimage lasts 2 weeks. It usually takes place in April or May. Pilgrims come from all over Luxembourg and the Greater Region. They gather at Luxembourg Cathedral to take part in various religious ceremonies and processions. The atmosphere is one of devotion, unity and joy. For the occasion, the cathedral is richly decorated and the statue of St. Mary Consoler dressed in festive garments.

A grand procession marks the end of the two-week Octave pilgrimage. The faithful, dressed in traditional costumes, carry the statue of the Virgin Mary through the streets of Luxembourg City. Religious songs and prayers accompany the procession. The grand-ducal family follows the procession, as do the country's political authorities.

Later, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, accompanied by the rest of the family, appear on the balcony of the Grand Ducal Palace to greet the crowds in the Old Town district.

The Octave or "Maërtchen" market

Coming from far and wide, pilgrims attending the various religious celebrations had to feed themselves. Food stalls were set up in front of the cathedral. These were the beginnings of the Octave market or Mäertchen.

The small food stalls of the traditional Octave pilgrimage are now part of a large market, the "Maërtchen". Set up on the large Place Guillaume II or Knuedler, around the cathedral, the Octave market attracts the faithful. More widely, families living in Luxembourg and beyond come to take part in the festivities. Visitors can take advantage of gastronomic stalls, merry-go-rounds and other entertainment.

Luxembourg's Octave pilgrimage combines spirituality, history and cultural celebrations. The pilgrimage of Our Lady of Fatima to Wiltz is also a celebration of Luxembourg's religious values.

The one-of-a-kind Echternach dance procession is listed as a Unesco intangible heritage site. Discover Luxembourg's unique traditions

  • Start date :
  • 20/04/2024


Luxembourg Cathedral, Luxembourg

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