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The Abbey of Conques

Listed under Sacred Spaces in Midi-Pyrenees, France.

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Located in a remote Auvergene valley upon a steep and thickly wooded mountain, the Abbey of Conques was one of medieval France's most visited pilgrimage shrines. Church authorities explain that Conques gained renown as an important shrine along one of the four principal routes leading to Santiago de Compostela, because of the 12th century Benedictine abbey which contained the miraculous relics of St. Foy. However, a bit of detective work concerning the life of St. Foy reveals that this person certainly did not have enough time to lead the life of a saint. Foy was a small girl living in Asia Minor who was burnt as a Christian in 303 AD and therefore became classified as a martyr of Christ. There are no stories concerning the child which give any evidence of a saintly life, such as we find with St. Francis, nor any reason that her relics would have spiritual powers.

Furthermore the relics of Foy, like so many others in medieval times, are of dubious authenticity. Indeed, the ‘relics’ of Foy were not even originally kept in Conques but were rather stolen, by a Christian monk, from the church of Agen and then brought to Conques. While certain sacred objects, such as relics of truly saintly persons or items used for centuries of ceremony, do indeed have a power or mysterious energy that contributes to the occurrence of miraculous phenomena, this does not seem to be the explanation for the power of Conques. The site was holy ground long before the arrival of Christianity and to the living earth we must look for an explanation of the miracles.

The Abbey of Conques.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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