A little history of Sainte-Madeleine basilica in Vezelay

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The basilica - ©Nikater / CC-BY-SA The basilica - ©Nikater / CC-BY-SA
Sainte-Madeleine basilica in Vezelay Basilica Pilgrimage

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 Jean VIII.

The Middle-Ages was a golden age for our abbey! Since 1050, it housed saint Madeleine's relics (Magdalene) and became a very important place of pilgrimage. Believers and merchants used to stop here, on the hard road that led to Compostela! Destroyed during the Hundred Years War, Vézelay welcomed Protestants in 1557. But it was plundered during the war of Religion and was almost razed during the French Revolution.

Well, let's see that basilica, now! I told you that it was founded in the 9th century and that the pilgrimage was famous thanks to the miracles done by relics. The crowd of pilgrims were so huge that 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 others relics of Magdalene, in Provence: yes, in the basilica of la Sainte-Baume... Good heavens! Impossible! Anyway, Vézelay's pilgrimages spaced out overnight...