A great pilgrimage took place in the little city! Yes, in the 11th century, a lord from Lorraine, Albert de Varangéville, brought back saint Nicolas' phalanx from Italy, stolen by Italians in Myrrh (a city in current Turkey), an area where the saint was born.
Albert put the relic in a chapel in the middle of the wood. People from Lorraine came soon from all Europe, in order to see the precious miraculous relic! They decided to re-raise a bigger church, in 1101. And around that church, a little city was founded. Merchants started to sell souvenirs dedicated to the saint: yes, it became a real touristic city, which became very prosperous!
Can you believe it, princes of Lorraine allowed lots of privileges to those sellers: the city became one of the richest town in Lorraine (richer than Nancy, whoa)! Completed in 1194, the primitive church get lots of presents: Margaret's silver boat, king saint Louis' wife, a kind of thank-you ex voto.
She prayed saint Nicolas to keep her husband safe, in a middle of a storm, at sea, when he came back from Crusade! We also had golden and silver reliquaries given by Charles II of Lorraine and René I of Anjou, and Margaret of England’s clothes (precious tunics and stoles) Real treasures, which were destroyed during the Revolution...
In the 15th century, Simon Moycet, son of a draper and priest of St-Nicolas, wanted to rebuild the old church: the building site began in 1495! He drawn plans and even paid for the construction.
When he died in 1520, the 3 vaulted naves were completed, and they began the portal and the bell-towers. Finally, in 1544, the building site ended: it was the most beautiful church ever raised in Lorraine!
But during 30 years War, in 1635, a fire destroyed the framework, the roof and stained-glass windows: the restoration began in 1664. Saint-Nicolas became a basilica in 1950.