From our regional correspondent
“Édith de Lisieux. “ To baptize the high point of the Teresian festivals in this way, it was necessary to dare! And the Belgian director Marc Hollogne did not hesitate to tell in his own way the beautiful relationship that Edith Piaf had forged with the saint, during a show to be given on Friday 1er October in the basilica.
Hosted in the brothel run by her aunt in Bernay, 25 km from Lisieux, little Edith, 6, was suffering from a form of blindness which left the doctors powerless. “The aunt had the idea of taking her niece and her boarders to pray at Thérèse’s tomb, the arrival of the little troop in Lisieux must have caused a sensation, in any case Edith Piaf regained her sight”, explains Emmanuel Houis, secretary general of the sanctuary.
From then on, the singer devoted all her short life to worshiping the Norman saint, visiting her every year on her tomb or giving multiple recitals in Lisieux. “These two personalities had in common the simplicity and the obsession of love ”, continues Emmanuel Houis who accepted the idea of extending the spectacle of the basilica with a popular ball.
Dance on Thérèse’s square! The idea delighted in advance Antoine Fantin, organizer of the first edition of Lisieux Grand Openers, a festival comprising about fifteen other events in which the show and the ball were integrated. “Relations between the city and the sanctuary have long been difficult, the locals did not feel at home up there and the pilgrims did not come down to the city, hence the idea of bringing everyone together”, he specifies.
“During the Second World War, the city was crushed by bombs while the basilica was spared, it did not facilitate relations”, continues Emmanuel Houis. But the arrival of a new team at the town hall, in 2020, and the desire to reweave the link between all the inhabitants after confinement have blown up the barrier between the top and the bottom of the city. “That is the hymn to love effect of Edith Piaf”, rejoices Emmanuel Houis who had also adhered to the mayor’s idea of organizing the very republican fireworks display on July 14th on the forecourt.
Canceled due to covid, this fireworks display will finally be fired for the opening of the Christmas market, a new act of reconciliation at the dawn of a crucial period for the sanctuary engaged in a decade of commemorations: centenary of the beatification (2023), the canonization (2025), laying of the foundation stone of the basilica (2029).