Dordogne

Wishing Wells and Black Virgins …

The small chapel in the forest where a young shepherdess saw an apparition of the "White Lady"

The small chapel in the forest where a young shepherdess saw an apparition of the “White Lady”

I wasn’t expecting to come to this place and to my surprise I was told that it was here at this very place that in 1814 a lady dressed in white appeared to a fourteen year young shepherdess by the name of Marie-Jeanne Grave, announcing the people to return to Christianity. She spreads out the message, but was ridiculed and no one believed her. Then her parents died. Marie-Jeanne died four months later following the apparition and more deaths were brought about apparently to punish the people for not listening to the shepherdess. Just like it was predicted by Lady in white. A rather grim story isn’t ? A statue of the black faced virgin is found in a niche on the upper part of the shrine, undoubtedly a gloomy reminder of the not too happy “lady in white” Black virgins, whether it is compared with the “alter ego” of Mary, prehistoric Mother Earth, Isis, Ishtar or other pagan Goddesses, shrines carrying these enigmatic statues are believed to have special healing powers. Whatever legends or stories attached to this shrine, since the apparition this place has never ceased to attract pilgrims and believers. The place itself is an enchantment, surrounded by beautiful forest and lush green fields. There is also a sacred spring nearby.

Statue of the "black virgin" and the "lady in White" inside the chapel

Statue of the “black virgin” and the “lady in White” inside the chapel

The statue of the Lady in white known as Notre Dame de Redon Espic is placed in a small circular baptistry shaped like a traditional borie (a dry stone hut) with the typical lauze (stone) rooftop. It was nearly midday and as I entered the shrine I saw fresh flowers undoubtedly placed by some pilgrims earlier on. A number of ex voto offerings, fulfillment of gratitude and votive candles surrounded the statue, this clearly shows that the shrine is still well frequented. Next to the shrine is a small fountain where the apparition took place. Not far from the holy shrine is the lovely 14th century church of Redon-Espic which was once left abandoned, today restored and managed by Les Amis de Redon Espic . An annual pilgrimage is set each year in Autumn where a mass is held in front of the shrine. Putting aside the sad story of Marie-Jeanne, I left this place in thoughts, and following the old tradition made my wish. If my wish comes true, I will surely come back to visit the Lady in white with an ex voto !

Interior of the old church of Redon-Espic in Dordogne

Interior of the old church of Redon-Espic in Dordogne

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