A Visit to Vézelay, France.
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Here in Saint Marie de la mer, in the Camargue region of Southern France (also famous for the Camargue horse) there is an annual pilgrimage (of the ancient nomadic tribe, we now know today as gypsies) on the 24th and 25th May.
Anyway, back to Vézelay.. Vézelay's history began in 860 AD, when the hilltop site was donated for the purposes of a monastery by Gerard, Count of Roussillon and his wife, Bertha. King Nicholas I in 867 and King Charles the Bald in 868 confirmed the donation.The new Vézelay abbey was overseen by the great Benedictine Abbey at Cluny. Eudes, the monastery's first abbot, offered hospitality to King John VIII, who in 879 consecrated the first church. Norman Invasions destroyed the original church, which was then restored under Abbot Geoffrey in the early 11th century.
For two centuries the account of the monks of Vézelay was accepted. Papal bulls of Lucius III, Urban III, and Clement III confirmed the statement that they possessed the body of St. Mary Magdalene. Construction on the present basilica began in 1096 under Abbot Artaud to properly honor the sacred relics and welcome the many pilgrims.
Vézelay continues to receive thousands of visitors and has hosted a number of important historical events:
- In 1146 St.
- On Pentecost, 1166, St. Thomas Becket used the pulpit of Vézelay to pronounce excommunication against the clerics who, to gratify King Henry II, had violated the rights of the Church.
- In July 1190, Richard the Lion-Hearted and Philip Augustus met at the Basilica Sainte Madeleine to begin their journey on the Third Crusade.
- In 1217, St. Francis of Assisi founded the first French community of Friars Minor at Vézelay.
The prestige of the abbey began to diminish in 1280 when the Dominicans of St. Maximin in Provence claimed that the true body of St.
During the French Revolution the ancient monastery buildings were destroyed and sold at auction. Only the basilica, cloister, and dormitory escaped demolition. An attempt at restoration of the once-great pilgrimage site was made in 1876 by the future Cardinal Bernadou, Archbishop of Sens. The archbishop determined to restore the pilgrimage of St. Mary Magdalen at Vézelay and brought a relic of the saint which Martin IV had given to the Chapter of Sens in 1281.
The Basilica was restored by Viollet le Duc in 1840, the same restorer who fixed up the cathedrals of Laon, Amiens and Paris's Notre-Dame.The grounds of the Basilica are large with a wooded picnic area and fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. Armed with a picnic consisting of du pain, du vin and du fromage amongst other things, we enjoyed a filling meal in the French summer sun after spending time inside the basilica and having our breath taken away by its enormity and brilliance - Fantastique! Burgundy is a fantastic place in general, with so much to see and do for all ages and interests. But then so is France in my opinion - I love this country for its diversity and wine!
Next Stop Bergerac! Cant wait!!