The procession will depart from Perpignan's St Jean Baptiste Cathedral, Source: Depositphotos

Perpignan farmers will pray for rain with a procession for the first time in 150 years

Perpignan farmers will pray for rain with a procession for the first time in 150 years

The Pyrénées-Orientales department is experiencing the worst drought since 1959

The winter drought afflicting Southern France and Catalonia is so bad that agricultural producers in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales have decided to go back to the basics by invoking rainfall through an ancient ritual that has not been performed in the last century and a half.

More specifically, this consists of a traditional procession dedicated to Saint Gaudérique, the patron of Catalonian farmers, which is scheduled to take place this Saturday, 18 March in Perpignan, in the southwest of France. The procession will be led by the vicar of the Saint Jean Baptiste Cathedral in that city, and it will go from the temple to a bridge on the Têt river.

When all else fails, tradition is the technology

According to French media, the ritual itself dates back some thousand years in the past, and the first recorded instances of it being performed can be traced to 1014. Since then, more than 800 such processions have been carried out though it seems to have been abandoned as a practice sometime during the 19th century.

However, with the current ongoing drought, which has battered records and despaired farmers, the agricultural workers have decided to once again resort to the medieval tradition.

According to Ouest France, the processionaries will carry two stretches – one will exhibit the statue of St Gaudérique, and the other will display relics from the cathedral enclosed in a glazed casing.

In spite of occasional rains, the groundwater reserves are still depleted. On Monday, the French Bureau of Geological and Mineral Research (BRGM) said the groundwater levels are very low in 80 per cent of the region. The drought is considered to be the worse in that department since 1959.

The resulting condition is worrisome since this can threaten the upcoming harvests in the summer. The situation will only change if there is more rain in the coming weeks up until the planting season.



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