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Cathedral of Notre Dame, Le Puy

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Auvergne, France.

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Located on Mount Corneille in the Auvergne region of central France, the cathedral of Notre Dame in Le Puy is one of Europe's oldest and most celebrated pilgrimage shrines. Much visited during medieval times by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela and highly venerated for its Black Madonna statue, Mount Corneille's use as a sacred place has its roots in prehistoric times. Long before the arrival of Christianity a dolmen, or megalithic standing stone, had stood atop the sacred hill and this stone was to play a decisive role in the development of Le Puy as a Christian pilgrimage site.

Between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, a local woman suffering from an incurable disease had visions of Mary, in which she received instructions to climb Mt. Corneille, where she would be cured by sitting by the dolmen stone. Following this advice, the woman was miraculously cured of her ailment. During a second vision, the woman was given instructions that the local bishop should be contacted and told to build a church on the hill. Convinced by these miracles, the bishop completed construction of the church by AD 430. Despite ecclesiastical pressures, which sought to combat the survival of pagan religious practices, the dolmen was left standing in the center of the sanctuary and was consecrated as the ‘Throne of Mary.’ By the 8th century the megalithic stone, locally known as the ‘stone of visions,’ was taken down and broken. Its pieces were then set into the floor of a section of the church that came to be called the Chambre Angelique, or the ‘Angels Chamber.’ However, visions and apparitions continued to occur in the church. Another pilgrimage shrine in Le Puy, much visited during medieval times, is the Chapel of St. Michael. A site of known pre-Christian sanctity, it is located along the enigmatic Apollo and Athena energy line which runs arrow-straight from Skellig Michael in Ireland through Delphi, Delos and other holy places of ancient Europe.

Cathedral of Notre Dame, Le Puy.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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