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Stillborn babies and Avioth respite sanctuary

Our-Lady of Avioth | Stbrice / CC-BY-SA
Basilica Miracle Notre-Dame basilica in Avioth

The nice Gothic basilica in Avioth was named after a legend... legend about a miraculous statue. Here, in the 12th century, peasants found a statue of the Virgin Mary in a bush. They immediately brought her in the church of Saint-Brice, a few steps away. But... the next day, she disappeared.

They found her, guess where? In the field where peasants found her the first time! No doubt: it was a miracle. And until the French Revolution, people came in Avioth basilica to bring their dead babies to the Virgin. The tradition says Mary used to resurrect them... just few minutes, just long enough to baptism them.

After, they buried them in the cemetery adjoining the basilica. Those kind of Catholic holy places are known as sanctuaires à répit, respite sanctuaries. The respite is the short rebirth given to a stillborn baby, who died without baptism.

Because if the little baby didn’t have baptism, he was condemned to wander in limbo, which is a very dark place not far from Hell! But with this short return, the baptism was done and the baby could die and go to Heaven. And he was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

A document says between 1637 and 1786, 149 kids briefly returned to life. Oh, it remind us the legend of the Virgin from Lagny-sur-Marne, who made the same kind of miracles... but with Joan of Arc! The pope finally forbade this practise in 1729.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!