Le Puy en Velay, France

Our Lady of Le Puy The Christianization legends of Mons Anicius relate that at the request of Bishop Martial of Limoges, Bishop Evodius/Vosy caused an altar to the Virgin Mary to be erected on the pinnacle that surmounts Mont Anis. Some such beginning of the shrine Christianized the pagan site that became the altar site of the cathedral of Le Puy. It marked one starting-point for the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela, a walk of some 1600 km, as it still does today. The old town of Le Puy gathered round the base of the cathedral. The pilgrims came early to Le Puy, and no French pilgrimage was more frequented in the Middle Ages. Charlemagne came twice, in 772 and 800; there is a legend that in 772 he established a foundation at the cathedral for ten poor canons (chanoines de paupérie), and he chose Le Puy, with Aachen and Saint-Gilles[disambiguation needed ], as a center for the collection of Peter's Pence. Charles the Bald visited Le Puy in 877, Odo, count of Paris in 892, Robert II in 1029, Philip Augustus in 1183. Louis IX met James I of Aragon here in 1245; and in 1254 passing through Le Puy on his return from the Holy Land, he gave to the cathedral an ebony image of the Blessed Virgin clothed in gold brocade, one of the many dozens of venerable "Black Virgins" of France: it was destroyed at the Revolution, but replaced at the Restoration with a copy that continues to be venerated. After him, Le Puy was visited by Philip the Bold in 1282, by Philip the Fair in 1285, by Charles VI in 1394, by Charles VII in 1420, and by Isabelle Romée, the mother of Joan of Arc in 1429. Louis XI made the pilgrimage in 1436 and 1475, and in 1476 halted three leagues from the city and went to the cathedral barefooted. Charles VIII visited it in 1495, Francis I in 1533. The legendary early shrine on the summit of Mons Anicius that drew so many would seem to predate the founding of an early church of Our Lady of Le Puy at Anicium, which was attributed to Bishop Vosy, who transferred the episcopal see from Ruessium to Anicium. Crowning the hill there was a megalithic dolmen. A local tradition rededicated the curative virtue of the sacred site to Mary, who cured ailments by contact with the standing stone. When the founding bishop Vosy climbed the hill, he found that it was snow-covered in July; in the snowfall the tracks of a deer round the dolmen outlined the foundations of the future church.[3] The Bishop was apprised in a vision that the angels themselves had dedicated the future cathedral to the Blessed Virgin, whence the epithet "Angelic" given to the cathedral of Le Puy. The great dolmen was left standing in the center of the Christian sanctuary, which was constructed around it; the stone was re-consecrated as the Throne of Mary. By the eighth century, however, the stone, popularly known as the "stone of visions", was taken down and broken up. Its pieces were incorporated into the floor of a particular section of the church that came to be called the Chambre Angélique, or the "angels' chamber." It is impossible to say whether this St. Evodius is the same who signed the decrees of the Council of Valence in 374. Neither can it be affirmed that St. Benignus, who in the seventh century founded a hospital at the gates of the basilica, and St. Agrevius, the 7th-century martyr from whom the town of Saint-Agrève Chiniacum took its name, were really bishops. Duchesne thinks that the chronology of these early bishops rests on very little evidence and that very ill-supported by documents; before the 10th century only six individuals appear of whom it can be said with certainty that they were bishops of Le Puy. The first of these, Scutarius, the legendary architect of the first cathedral, dates, if we may trust the inscription which bears his name, from the end of the 4th century. Adhemar, bishop of Le Puy was a central figure in the First Crusade. Pope Clement IV was also bishop of Le Puy. Though the ancient diocese was suppressed by the Concordat of 1801, it was re-erected in 1823."

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