Church in drought-hit southern France organises a ‘make it rain’ march

The procession on Sunday will ‘ask God for his intervention’ amid an ongoing rain deficit

The church in Draguignan is hoping for a little divine intervention as the area continues to suffer from severe drought
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A church in the south of France is organising a religious procession in a bid to make it rain, as drought conditions intensify.

The church in the 40,000-inhabitant town of Draguignan, Var (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur), is taking the lead from the ‘Rogations’ tradition, which features a number of rituals aimed at encouraging rain to fall. These include religious chants, prayers and a procession.

The event will begin at 16:30 on Sunday (May 7) from the Jardin d’Anglès. Monseigneur Rey, the bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, will be there, as will Mayor Richard Strambio, along with several local councillors.

People in the local area who are particularly affected by a lack of water have also been invited, including farmers, market sellers, and winemakers.

The church’s priest, Dieudonné Massoma told Var Matin: “For the church, a rogation is a public, popular, and solemn prayer. Christians take note of a problem, like the lack of water. And they turn to God to ask for his intervention.”

The tradition was typically performed around Ascension. The priest explained: “During the three days before the Ascension, public prayers were made to attract the divine blessing on the crops. A prayer is always answered, in the Christian faith.”

On its Facebook page, the church wrote: “Drought emergency. We are going to reprise the traditions of our elders and hold a procession to ask the Heavens to think of us.” The church has also tried another modern technique to raise interest: projecting the event flyer on the side of the building.

The priest said: “This is intended to open up the church, to make it more accessible, to give an account of the hope in God that is fun. So that things can improve. Water is life!"

The event will end with a “blessing of the tractors and other professional farming equipment, and a countryside buffet”.

Most of the Var department has been placed on ‘heightened drought alert’ (second-highest level) already this year, while the coastal areas are on ‘alert’ (one level lower). Parts of neighbouring department Alpes-Maritimes have also been placed on ‘heightened’ alert.

Much of France has also had drought restrictions imposed, as rainfall so far this year has not been sufficient to top up the groundwater levels.

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