Sainte Foy and her feast day. I've seen her reliquary before, of course, in its normal place in the Tresor, but seeing her out amongst her people being sung to and venerated was a joyful experience. Even though she doesn't quite look how I'd picture a 12 year-old girl! Her gold and silver covered body is actually made of wood encrusted with precious and semi-precious stones. It dates from about 980 CE. There is a compartment in the back of the statue that holds the glass vessel containing her relics.Her head has puzzled experts for years. It dates from the 5th century and the most commonly accepted theory is that it was originally the head of a Roman statue and was simply attached to the seated body. Other experts have proposed that it is a copy of Charlemagne's death mask or that it may be the head of an ancient Egyptian statue. No one knows for sure. It's a priceless religious artifact as evidenced by the presence of three gendarmes the entire time she was out of her locked and secure Tresor!
After Mass, the crowd milled around the parvis watching the Occitan dancers perform and purchasing home-baked goodies being sold by the Conques primary school. All the presiding priests were working the crowd, doing a holy meet and greet. Everyone was smiling and happy. I approached the priest who gave the homily during Mass and thanked him for what was for me a very special weekend. And I added, "putting all this together must have been a lot of work."
To which he replied in lovely French-accented English "It was the work of joy, Madame. She is a very special girl, you know!"
Indeed, she is.