Notre-Dame de Vaudouan, a story about water and pilgrimage which brought the house down
Water and miracle!
Our story began with a miracle, on March 25th 1013… A shepherdess found a little statue of Virgin Mary, next to the spring of Vaudouan. A lovely statue, representing Mary with baby Jesus in her arms, holding a dove in his hands… The young girl brought her to the priest of Briantes, who let her in his church. But the next day, she disappeared! The young shepherdess came back next to the spring of Vaudouan and saw the statue floating above the water! The priest gave her to the church of La Châtre. But when night came, the statue vanished. She came back in Vaudouan! Well, it was clear: the Virgin wanted to be worship here!
A real crowd of people!
They raised a chapel next to the spring. The pilgrimage was a smash hit during the Middle Ages, but also at the end of the 19th century (more than 25000 pilgrims came in Vaudouan).
So, we have plenty of ex-voto, here! About 80, including a wax leg! In 2013, the pilgrimage celebrated its 1000 years old.
The current chapel dates back to 1868, a reconstruction made by architect Dauvergne for abbot Semelet. In fact, after the discovery of the statue, they raised a small chapel in the 11th century, re-raised in the 14th and 16th centuries… and finally in the 19th century. So we have a Neo-Gothic church, with a colorful decoration, from bottom to top. Completely stunning! Here, look at the ceiling: paintings were made by Italian artist Tarniotti, from Nevers (Burgundy). They were restored in 2010 by Jacques Viard. By the way, the nice stained-glass windows in the choir represent the story of Our-Lady of Vaudouan (1866), made by the famous glass-maker Lobin from Tours...