In Luxembourg, Catholicism is predominant. The regions of the present Grand Duchy of Luxembourg were evangelised from the 4th century onwards by missionaries coming from the town of Trier (Germany).
Among the most important religious centres of the country are Echternach and Luxembourg. The main religious buildings, the Saint Willibrord Basilica in Echternach and the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg, are also the main destinations of pilgrimage in Luxembourg, with the Echternach dancing procession, the so-called Sprangprëssessioun, and the Oktav in Luxembourg.
In Luxembourg City, the Cathedral Notre-Dame of Luxembourg was built between 1613 and 1621 by Jesuits to serve as a chapel for the adjoining school (today the National Library). The Northern portico is a typical example of the half-Renaissance, half-Baroque style of that period. Since 1794, it has housed the statue of Mary, the Consoler of the Afflicted. Having become a Cathedral in 1870, the building was enlarged from 1935 to 1938. The crypt is the resting place for John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg, as well as for the members of the grand ducal family.
The Oktav pilgrimage to the statue of the Consoler of the Afflicted takes place every year in May and is one of the pillars of the public manifestation of faith in Luxembourg.
It was in the year 698 that the settlement of Echternach started to expand thanks to the efforts of the Anglo-Saxon monk Willibrord (658-739). The Basilica of St. Willibrord, whose present form dates from the 11th and 13th centuries, was heavily damaged during the Second World War and was partially rebuilt in Neo-Romanesque style. The crypt dates from the Carolingian period and still shows remains of frescos. It houses a sumptuous sarcophagus in white marble, containing the mortal remains of St. Willibrord.
The historical centre of the town and, more particularly, the basilica, are the background to the Hopping Procession on Whitsun Tuesday. The basilica is also one of the main concert venues of the Echternach International Festival.
The rest of the country
The most beautiful baroque churches are in Koerich, in the west, and in Junglinster, in the east of the country.
Another gem is the Saint Willibrord church in Rindschleiden, in the Ardennes region. Particularly noteworthy are its beautiful frescos, dating from the middle of the 15th and 16th centuries, covering an area of 170 square meters.