Limousin septennial ostensions

Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The Limousin septennial ostensions are grand ceremonies and processions organized every seventh year for the exhibition and worship of relics of Catholic saints kept in Limousin churches. Widely supported by local towns and villages, the festivities are attended by great numbers of people who gather to see the reliquaries as they process through town, accompanied by flags, banners, decorations and costumed historical figures. The septennial ostensions belong to the whole population of Limousin, and the inhabitants – Christian and non-Christian alike – think of themselves as the keepers of the tradition. Confraternities and committees are actively involved in the transmission of knowledge (both oral and written), as well as the artefacts linked with this practice. Preparing the ostensions is a communal, year-long undertaking that mobilizes the knowledge and skills of many craftspeople, local clergy, councillors, charities and volunteers, as well as choirs, bands and musical groups, in organizing the festivities and renewing the memory of the ostensions. The preparations also help to strengthen social bonds, while the festivities play an important role in helping recently arrived or former inhabitants to integrate and in reuniting families as relatives return to join in the celebrations.