Marking the start of the Doudou, the descent of the Châsse de Sainte-Waudru takes place the night before Trinity Sunday as the clock strikes 8pm. In the Collegiate Church, packed with people, the relics of the city’s patron saint join mere mortals.
Saint Waudru, the founding mother
The story goes that she saved Mons from a plague in 1348. Some seven centuries later, the people of Mons still worship her completely. Every year, on the Saturday of the Trinity weekend, Saint Waudru, the founder of the city who was born in the 7th century, is the subject of a moving ceremony in the Collegiate Church that bears her name. The moment that everybody looks forward to, the descent of her relics, marks the start of the festivities of the Ducasse Rituelle. This has to be the most solemn focal point of the weekend.
A ceremony to be experienced
Some get up at dawn to get a seat in the Collegiate Church and so be sure that they will witness the descent of the relics. They wait for hours until the remains of the body of Saint Waudru are brought down and laid on the Car d'Or. How emotional they must be when at around 8pm they hear the trumpets, drums and the organ play their first notes. Eyes are filled with emotion when the procession starts from the sacristy. The canonesses of Saint Waudru, the canons of Saint Germain... Everyone sets off with their heads held high with pride.
Emotions running high
Accompanied by “Fortem virili pectore” and litanies, the reliquary slowly descends. Everyone’s eyes are fixed on it. Tears roll down some people’s cheeks. Saint Waudru joins the mortals, a symbolic moment. The lady who founded the city comes home. Attached to the shaft of the carriage, the casket takes its place in the procession before it is placed on the crossing of the transept and the nave. The Dean asks the mayor to take care of her during the stunning procession that will take place the next day. The Air du Doudou, the official hymn of the Ducasse, is played on the organ and all the members of the public in the church join in. One by one, everybody touches the casket with their hand or a handkerchief which is kept safe and sound at home. People sing outside as well. Just a few more hours and the procession can begin...