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Senegal, Popenguine:
Our Lady of Deliverance
(Notre-Dame de la Délivrance)

17 km North of Mbour, 80 km South East of Dakar, in an ecological sanctuary, 1888.

In 1887, Bishop Mathurin Picarda visited the mission of the Holy Ghost Fathers in Guéréo, Senegal, for the baptism of its first Catholic converts. The priests took a walk along the coast to the village of Popenguine. "What a magnificent site for a sanctuary to the Virgin!" the bishop observed. A native of Brittany, he decided to designate a famous Black Madonna from the neighboring province of Normandy, Notre Dame de la Délivrande, as patron saint of the shrine he wanted to see built. A Norman benefactor provided a replica statue. Her title was altered from the Celtic Notre-Dame de la Délivrande to the French Délivrance and she was installed in Senegal on May 22, 1888, the Tuesday after Pentecost, with a great procession.
The shrine at Popenguine suffered many closures and setbacks during the next century. There were a building collapse, epidemics of yellow fever and sleeping sickness, the Great War, and a shipwreck that took the lives of the bishop and 16 missionaries. The area remained primarily Muslim, but the Catholic faith and devotion to Our Lady of Deliverance persisted. A new church was built, dedicated in 1988 to the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and proclaimed a minor basilica in 1991 at the request of Cardinal Hyacinthe Thiamdoum, a native of Popenguine. Pope John Paul II visited the shrine and crowned the statue of Our Lady of Deliverance on February 20, 1992.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims, many of them organized groups of young people, and many inspired by rumors of Marian apparitions there, go to Popenguine for an annual celebration on Pentecost Monday, the Black Madonna’s feast day. They celebrate a solemn mass and then a procession from the church to a nearby grotto shrine of Our Lady of Deliverance in a cliff overlooking the sea.

Various 2008 articles lauded the ongoing Christian-Muslim dialogue in Senegal. Its fruit is peace and it expresses itself in the presence of many Muslim families, who joined in the pilgrimage to Popenguine at the side of their Catholic brethren.


photo of Black Madonna stain glass window: Jean-Rémi Baudot

photo above: the statue of Our Lady of Deliverance
in her grotto by the sea

photo right: the church in Popenguine

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sources: http://www.wherewewalked.info/feasts/05-May/mon_after_pentecost.htm and http://www.senegalaisement.com/senegal/popenguine.php and “Beaucoup de musulmans aux côtés des catholiques” (i.e. “Many Muslims at the Side of Catholics”)