Monday February 29, 2016

Le Puy-en-Velay

The shrine of Le Puy presents all the ingredients of a famous Marian shrine. It is among the oldest Marian shrines of Europe. It goes back to a Marian apparition, possibly in 420. The shrine is built on a pagan and Gallo-Roman sanctuary. Its architecture contains elements of style from as early as the 5th century reaching through the centuries to the neo-gothic revival of the 19th century.

Situated in South Central France (Auvergne), Le Puy has always been an important "rest stop" on the famous pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. The miraculous image is, with the Black Madonnas of Chartes and Roccamadour, one of the oldest and most famous of France. Tradition connects its origin with King Louis the Saint who may have brought back the small sculpture from the seventh crusade (1248-1254). Baldwin II, emperor of Constantinople, offered Louis IX the crown of thorns of Our Lord, a thorn of which he donated in 1239 to Le Puy. Town and sactuary are built on needle-shaped rock formations – vestiges of an ancient volcanic landscape. Since 962, one of these free-standing peaks shelters a chapel in honor of St. Michael. Since 1860, a second peak is the base of the monumental statue of Our Lady of France which is made of 213 Russian cannons captured at Sebastopol during the Crimean war.   

The primary feast day is the Annunciation on March 25. When Annuncation and Good Friday coincide, Le Puy celebrates with great pomp its jubilee beginning in 992. The most recent jubilee was celebrated in 2005, the next one on March 25, 2016.

– Father Johann G. Roten, S.M., Director of Research and Special Projects

Visit the exhibit Epinal: Popular Art for Mind and Heart in the Marian Library Gallery to see 33 Images of Epinal, categorized into nine themes, from the Marian Library collection.

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