Recognised throughout Belgium as one of the most beautiful (if not THE most beautiful!) religious processions in the country, the procession of the Car d'Or begins at 9.30 in the morning on the Sunday of the Ducasse.
Saint Waudru comes home
In the early hours of the morning, Mons’ Collegiate Church is filled with the traditional music of the Doudou. The day before, the relics of Saint Waudru are brought down before the dean, the mayor and hundreds of local residents, thrilled to be able to pay tribute to the founding mother of the city. The Car d'Or (golden carriage) that carries the Châsse (casket) is ready. It is 9.30am, the procession can begin. Throughout the morning, the ceremonial carriage takes the relics of its founder through the city, in the company of 1,500 participants.
Seven centuries of the procession
On the pavements and behind the security barriers, the locals applaud. They cry out and shout as the Car d'Or goes by, pulled by six workhorses. Even though centuries have gone by, the tradition is still alive and well. The procession that dates back to the 14th century attracts thousands of spectators. Arms are raised in the air and flags waved before the different associations, fellowships and other historic groups that lead the procession. Standards, players of ancient music, relics, the casket, fellowships, canonesses and other horse riders retell the history of Mons with great pomp and circumstance. Because over and above the religious elements of the event, the procession plunges the spectators into a time that anybody under twenty cannot possibly understand...
A date with history
Wearing period costumes, participants remind us how Mons has always played a key role in the history of Europe. Different trades, religious congregations and guilds march to the music. The Car d'Or brings up the rear of the procession. On the carriage next to the casket of Saint Waudru, a priest accompanied by altar boys tells the story of miracles attributed to the saint at different symbolic locations around the city. During these stories, the faithful hand out different objects to the children, who attach them to the casket in the hope that they will bring good luck. After doing a “tour” of the city, the Car d'Or returns to the Collegiate Church, but not before climbing the Saint Waudru ramp. This climb, which lasts around thirty seconds, is one of the highlights of the Ducasse.