Thousands hop to Echternach for curious dance
Pilgrims showed the memory of Saint Willibrord was alive and kicking when they took to the streets of Echternach for the annual “Sprangprëssessioun”.
Altogether, more than 9,000 “springers” and 43 groups of pilgrims took part in the curious dance which has been under UNESCO protection since 2010.
Lined up in rows and holding kerchiefs in both hands, participants hopped forward diagonally to the left and right in tune to a traditional folk song.
The tradition dates back to 1497 but appeared to show no sign of losing its appeal on Tuesday as, in addition to the participants, scores of people gathered in the Medieval town to watch the event.
The ceremony honours Saint Willibrord, a missionary who founded the Echternach Abbey, where he is today buried.
The last pilgrims were due to arrive at the Echternach basilica at around 1pm.
Among this year's guests were Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, Mgr. Christo Proykov, Apostolic Exarch of Sofia, and the Belgian Metropolitan, Mgr. Athénagoras Peckstadt.
Willibrord was born in Northumbria in 658, studied in Ireland and went on to become archbishop of the Frisians (part of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark) with his see at Utrecht.
He founded the Echternach monastery to serve as a centre for his misisonary endeavours and extended the missionary reach into Denmark and Upper Friesland.
Willibrord died while on retreat in Echternach on November 7, 739. He is the patron saint of convulsions; epilepsy; epileptics; Luxembourg; Netherlands; archdiocese of Utrecht, Netherlands.
His mortal remains are contained in a white sarcophagus in the Merovingian crypt in Echternach's Abbey church.
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