Limousin septennial ostensions
Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Limousin septennial ostensions
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.
Decision 8.COM 8.12
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The Limousin septennial ostensions combine religious devotion with secular traditions and craftsmanship, involving the entire community and bringing together practitioners of diverse social backgrounds in a spirit of social cohesion and identity, punctuating their lives and resonating with the history of the region;
- R.2: Inscription on the Representative List could enhance the visibility of intangible cultural heritage and awareness of its significance, as well as strengthen dialogue among other communities near and far having similar rituals and festivities;
- R.3: Safeguarding measures, marked by the involvement of all stakeholders, include the establishment of a strategy focused on the constant transmission of knowledge and know-how;
- R.4: The community of Limousin, particularly the confraternities and committees organizing the ostensions, participated actively in the nomination process and provided free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: With the participation of the concerned community, the Limousin septennial ostensions were included in 2011 in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in France, maintained by the Ministry of Culture and Information.
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