In light of the recent attacks in Paris, France, I felt that need to write about a Marian devotion that focused specifically on Our Lady in France. Although today’s “Mondays with Mary” is not as popular as Our Lady of Lourdes or the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of Nanteuil is one the oldest shrines in the country going back to the late 1st century.
Tradition tells us that the first Christians in the area found a statue on the branch of an oak tree. Because it seemed to be an odd place, they removed the statue from the branch and put it on a wall close to a fountain. Impressed with their discovery of the Marian statue, they went to call their neighbors to show them.
After gathering their neighbors, they found out that the statue was not where they had put it, and hoped that nobody took it away. Some time later, the statue was found again in the original place the Christians found it – on the branch of the oak tree. They took this as a sign that Our Lady did not want the statue to be moved. Constructed around the oak tree, the first chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Nanteuil was built. In the twelfth century, a parish church was built to replace the very old chapel.
Although France would endure many struggles, the religious battles in the 16th century, and most tragically, the French Revolution, Our Lady of Nanteuil was nearly undisturbed. The one change that was noticeable on the statue at the time of the French Revolution was that the smiling face had now become a sad face. Some people even claimed to see tears coming from the eyes and rolling down the cheeks of the statue.
During the Revolution, a woman tied a rope around the neck of the statue and pulled it to the ground. The body broke apart but the head remain intact. Another woman looking for more loot threw the head aside. She was instantly punished with death.
A good woman took the remains of the head and hid it until the French Revolution had ceased. At this time a new body was constructed and the original head was placed on top creating a new statue.
There are many miracles attributed to Our Lady of Nanteuil, but the one that is often recorded is of the little crippled boy. After three pilgrimages to the shrine, where his mother carried him from their home to their shrine and back again, the boy after the third trip was miraculously healed. Upon returning home, he was healthy and no longer crippled. The shrine gained a reputation of healing the sick, especially the illnesses of children.
Although many in France frequented the shrine, it was a favorite place to pilgrimage for King Louis XI, Venerable Olier, and Benedict Joseph Labre.
This week let us ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary under this title and the many other titles she has given to us to protect all citizens of nations that come under harms way due to terrorism. Also pray for the repose of the souls of those who were killed on Friday night as well as their families who are enduring this great trial and suffering at this time. Let us also remember the souls of those who were killed in Beirut, Lebanon.
Our Lady of Nanteuil…Pray for Us.
Our Lady of Lourdes…Pray for Us.
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal…Pray for Us.
Roman Catholic Saints (http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com)