Orcival

Orcival.jpg

Notre-Dame-d'Orcival,
Notre-Dame-de-la-Delivrande (Our Lady of Deliverance)
Notre-Dame-des-Fers (Our Lady of the Irons, i.e. the chains she liberated prisoners from)

12th century copy of older original, wood covered in silver, except for face and hands. Church closed for lunch 12:30-2:00 p.m.

Orcival is one of the oldest and most famous Marian shrines in the Auvergne. People have been going there on pilgrimage since before the 10th century. It has a miraculous spring and everything a Black Madonna calls for, except that she was restored to her original pale colors in 1960.

Orcival,basilica.jpg

One legend attributes her to St. Luke. Another tells of the master builder, who was given the task of building a church for the town. In order to determine the proper place for the church, he randomly threw his hammer and where it landed the Madonna was found. The first church was built in the 11th century, but soon became too small to welcome the crowds of pilgrims coming for miraculous cures. So the current basilica was erected in 1146 to 1178. The Black Madonna returned to her place of apparition three times, but eventually she had to content herself with a compromise. The ruins of the original church were called "Tomb of the Virgin". A monument was built there and every year since the 12th century, on August 15th, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heaven, Our Lady is carried in a great candle light procession by barefoot men to her "tomb” and then brought back to the village.

Until 1885, she was kept in the crypt, the traditional place for Black Madonnas. Now she resides in a place in the church that is illumined by be sun at noon on August 15th - not bad either! 

Sources:
The amazing website Lieux Sacres has great detail and photos about this shrine.
Ean Begg, The Cult of the Black Virgin, Arkana Books, : 1985p.207

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