A little history of Sainte-Madeleine basilica in Vezelay
Located on the road to Compostela, Vézelay was founded by Girart de Roussillon in the middle of the 9th century. This lord called monks here, then they raised a monastery, dedicated by pope John VIII.
The Middle-Ages was a golden age for our abbey! Since 1050, it housed saint Madeleine's relics and became a very important place of pilgrimage.
Believers and merchants used to stop here, on the hard road leading to Compostela!
Destroyed during the Hundred Years War, Vézelay welcomed Protestants in 1557. But it was plundered during wars of Religion and was almost razed during the French Revolution.
Well, let's see that basilica! I told you it was founded in the 9th century and that the pilgrimage was famous thanks to miraculous relics.
The crowd of pilgrims was so huge they needed to extend the church, between 1096 and 1104! 16 years later, a terrible fire destroyed the nave and killed more than one thousand pilgrims...
The nave was re-raised, the choir and transept completed in 1215. The Romanesque façade dates back to 1150, transformed by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century.
You know what? They discovered other relics of Magdalene, in Provence: in basilica of la Sainte-Baume... Good heavens! Impossible! Anyway, Vézelay's pilgrimages spaced out overnight...