Story of Pontmain started with a vision: Virgin Mary appeared on January 17th 1871. We were in the middle of the Prussian war, the French took shelter in religion and prayers. A young boy, Eugène Bardebette, helped his brother Joseph in the familial barn in Pontmain.
Eugène went out of a walk. It was the evening. Suddenly, a "lady" appeared, with a halo around her and a blue dress. Only Eugène, his brother and two other children.
The Lady (the Virgin Mary of course!) told them: "Pray, children, and God will make you wishes come true". Inhabitants started to gather around children but the lady vanished. Coincidentally, few years later, France signed the peace with Prussia. It was a sign!! Pilgrims started to come in a body, from all Europe!
Bishop of Laval investigated and decided to raise a church dedicated to Our-Lady-of Hope: English architect Eugene Hawkes raised this huge Neogothic church... then our church became a basilica in 1908, then the pilgrimage became official 7 years later... 300 000 pilgrims came each year in Pontmain.
On the parvis, we can see a statue of Mary, dressed as children described her. Inside the church, stained-glass windows which deal with the vision. In a little street, we also can see Bardebette family’s barn, nowadays transforms into a chapel.