HISTORY OF PILGRIMAGE AT THE COLLEGIALE IN LE PUY NOTRE DAME
This morning we have wall to wall sunshine and a beautiful blue sky. The church bells are ringing loudly to remind us that it’s a special day in the vllage of Le Puy Notre Dame (translated ‘the hill of our lady’) dominated by its massive Collegiale and imposing spires and pinnacles, built in 1163 (the choir was finished in 1182 followed by the Nave in 1208, and the towers sometime between 1225-1250). Today is the annual pilgrimage where a celebration and hommage is taking place to the Saint Centure starting with mass this morning and then glass of wine and picnic in the Salle de Fete, finishing with prayers again in the afternoon.
The history to this is that Le Puy had become known as Puy-la-Montagne by 1793 and the hill of Puy as Mary’s Mountain. William 9th, Duke of Aquitaine, is reputed to have brought back a waistband of the Virgin Mary from the Crusades and deposited it in the church. His granddaughter Eleanor of Aquitaine founded a Collegiale church to honour the relic which, according to legend, facilitated pregnancies and favoured the birth of a son. Louis XI founded a chapter about 1480 and this became a site of pilgrimage the Sunday after 8 September. The relic (Holy belt) can still be viewed here – it’s placed in a belt of fine silk and measures 1,60 m x 4 cm. On the choir stalls at the back of the photo is the carving which became the emblem of Le Puy and it’s winemakers.
Le Puy Notre Dame became a stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostelle and 17th century hostelries used by the pilgrims still exist showing clearly the scallop shell, a symbol of the route and badge of the hostelries.
And so there it is.
Why not come and pay a visit to our beautiful Collegiale and appreciate its rich history. You won’t be disappointed.