Religion: Pardon Walk

In the marketplace of Locronan, a tiny (pop. 1,000) village in Brittany, 5,000 Frenchmen got set for a hike. Most were Bretons or of Breton origin, and many had come from far-off towns and lands; all had waited six years for the day. The occasion: the Tromenie, Brittany's sexennial pilgrimage, whose history, like Locronan's, dates back to the 5th or 6th century.

That was when St. Ronan, an Irish bishop consecrated by St. Patrick himself, founded Locronan. According to legend, St. Ronan spent his time in a hermit's cell, studied spiders as they spun their webs, and adapted their technique to the...

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