In the footsteps of Mary: a spiritual bond to rediscover

In this time of Advent, C8 presents a tour of France of twelve sanctuaries, cathedrals and basilicas dedicated to the Virgin. These jewels erected following apparitions or to ask for protection, have attracted pilgrims and the curious for 17 centuries.

At the time of the foundations, Clotilde would have attributed her marriage with Clovis and the conversions that followed to Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus. The link between Mary and France was sealed in the 5th century, with the baptism of Clovis, King of the Franks, who made our country the first Christian people in the West, the eldest daughter of the Church. Louis XIII to express his gratitude to the Blessed Virgin for having given him a son after 22 years of marriage, Louis Dieudonné, future Sun King, pronounced the extraordinary vow, by which he solemnly handed over France to the Virgin Mary, offering her his crown, on February 10, 1638. Throughout history, kings, lords and humble people have asked for his protection. Today, the sweet face of the Madonna and the maternal gestures of the statues with the Child Jesus, continue to attract souls in search of beauty, peace and spirituality. Recounting the miraculous origin and construction of these high places, the documentary In the footsteps of Mary Saturday, December 10 on C8, makes us discover, without any proselytism, a deeply Christian land that continues to unite. Here are twelve of these high places of meditation or pilgrimage:

The Notre-Dame-du-Puy-en-Velay cathedral (Auvergne)

The polychrome cathedral composed of a patchwork of volcanic stones, sandstone and limestone, contains in its sanctuary the stone of fevers or stone of apparitions for those who seek physical or spiritual healing. Mary is said to have appeared to a suffering woman in 437. In the cathedral, the faithful also venerate a small black Madonna and a thorn from the Holy Crown, brought from the Holy Land by Saint Louis. With its immense Virgin at the top, it marks the start of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Boulogne-sur-Mer (Manche)

Majestic, the basilica contains the largest crypt in France, which houses many objects dedicated to the cult of the nautical Virgin, enthroned in her boat as during her initial appearance in 636 when a wooden statue of Mary, led by two angels , arrives by sea. Fourteen kings of France and six kings of England came on pilgrimage here, says the documentary In the footsteps of Mary , directed by Emmanuel Descombes. Boulogne was then called the city of Notre-Dame until the Hundred Years War made it an unsafe place. Boulogne-Billancourt known as Boulogne-la-petit then becomes the branch of the coastal town.

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Rocamadour (Lot)

As in Le Puy-en-Velay, people come here to pray to a Black Virgin, patroness of sailors. A miraculous wrought iron bell dating from the 7th century rings whenever men are saved at sea through the intercession of Mary. The sailors come to entrust their mission to her or to thank her. In the 12th century, Rocamadour becomes one of the four holy places of Christianity with Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrims go up there on their knees while singing Hail Mary. The Virgin also intercedes in favor of prisoners who have come from Flanders to redeem their fault.

Chartres Cathedral (Eure-et-Loir)

A veritable book of stone and glass, this Gothic monument, built to dazzle, amaze and educate a population that cannot read, is the largest cathedral in Europe. Place of Marian pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, Chartres Cathedral contains a precious reliquary containing the largest piece of Mary’s veil, offered by Empress Irene to Charlemagne. In 911, the king drove out the Vikings after having brandished the veil on the ramparts of Chartres. Kings, princes, presidents, just like Charles de Péguy, came on foot meditate in this cathedral dedicated solely to Mary. On the stained glass windows, Chartres blue best conveys the light of spiritual elevation.

The Basilica of Sainte-Anne d’Auray (Morbihan)

The only appearance of Sainte-Anne, mother of Mary and patroness of Brittany, is said to have taken place in 1623, near the fountain of a modest Breton hamlet whose water is said to have healing properties. A woman appears to the young plowman Yvon Nicolazic. Morbihan hosts hundreds of chapels and holy places dedicated to Mary which, each year, are connected by the Tromenie de Marie, a carriage drawn by a draft horse, carrying a large statue of the Virgin to the sanctuary of Sainte- Anne d’Auray.

The Church of Our Lady of Cotignac (Var)

The Virgin appears to a woodcutter who asks her to build a chapel. For more than 40 years, fathers have come here on pilgrimage to ask for the birth of a child. Louis XIII and his wife Anne of Austria still childless, leaving the kingdom without an heir, benefited from his graces. In November 1637, Brother Fiacre, a young monk, had a vision of the Virgin carrying a child, the long-awaited dolphin. On December 5, 1638, the child was born. He is given the name of Louis “Dieudonné”, future Louis XIV who will have the longest reign in our history.

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (Paris)

In 1830, rue du bac in Paris, at the convent of the Daughters of Charity of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, Catherine Labouré, a young novice, saw Mary resplendent in her cloak of light, guided by an angel towards the chapel of the Community. . The latter miraculously escapes a shell that has not exploded. Other apparitions will follow, including that of Mary carrying a globe surmounted by a cross. Our Lady asks for a medallion to be engraved with a prayer and her unique design which links the cross of Jesus to the “M” of Mary. When Catherine Labouré died, more than a billion medals had already been minted.

The sanctuary of Our Lady of La Salette in La Salette-Fallavaux (Isère)

Two young shepherds stand out in a ball of fire, a weeping lady in her hands. Taking on the appearance of a mother in pain, Mary cries tears of light, humanity making her suffer. Devotion to the Virgin of La Salette is strong in the world where dozens of churches bear the name of La Sallette.

The sanctuary of Our Lady of La Salette (Isère) Adamis production

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (Lyon)

In 1870, as the Prussians approached Lyon, beautiful wealthy ladies went up in delegation to the small chapel to pray to Mary, promising to give all their jewelry in exchange for her protection. The Prussians stopping at Nuits-Saint-Georges, the construction of a church dedicated to Mary begins. The monumental golden wooden statue watches over the city from the hill. On December 8, the people of Lyon instituted the Feast of the Immaculate Conception or Feast of the Illuminations or simply called the festival of Lights.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (Lyon) Adamis production

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes (Pyrenees)

In 1858, the Virgin appeared 18 times to Bernadette Soubirous. These apparitions in the Massabielle grotto revived an extraordinary fervor of faith. In 150 years, 7500 unexplained cures but also 70 miracles attested by colleges of experts for diseases deemed incurable, have been counted. The crowd was such that four basilicas were built around the grotto, making Lourdes the largest Marian architectural complex.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (Marseille)

Nicknamed the “Good Mother”, the basilica of Our Lady of the Guard contains an impressive number of ex-voto soldiers, sailors, servants but also Legions of Honor deposited as a sign of thanks. The Marseillais come there when all is not well and leave happy, saying thank you. In Roman Byzantine style, Notre-Dame de la Garde, protector of Marseille, builds a bridge between the West and the East.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris

The documentary ends on Notre-Dame de Paris. His fire, on April 15, 2019, deeply marked Parisians and the whole world. During an all-night prayer, we rediscovered the spiritual power of Our Lady.

In the footsteps of Mary: a spiritual bond to rediscover