In 1844, this 17th century approximate copy of Our Lady of Le Puy was taken from another church to assume the empty throne and title of her burnt sister. She was crowned by the bishop of Le Puy in the name of Pope Pius IX in 1856.
Note her mantle. I have heard non-Christians complain about, "those patriarchs, who cover the Mother in those horrid wrappings!" Actually, the dressing of statues is one privilege that is usually left to pious women called 'sacristans'. In "The Healing Touch of Mary" by Cheri Lomonte,(*1) three such sacristans tell moving stories about Our Lady communicating messages by "choosing" certain dresses on certain days. They all cherish an intimacy with the Mother of God that comes from cleaning and dressing her, and creating her wardrobe. (Sponging her down with wine was a medieval custom, which according to Ean Begg survives as an annual ritual in Le Puy-en-Velay.(*2 )
Many of Mary's mantels turn her into a triangle, the oldest symbol from
Neolithic times for the Sacred Feminine in human as well as in divine
form. I don't think this is a coincident, but a message from Our Mother
and from a deep, unconscious memory carried in our DNA. What does it mean?
Le Puy is an incredible place to visit, beautiful in its nature and in
its medieval town, which is of great historical interest. If you don't
mind a crowd of 15-20,000 pilgrims, the best time to see Our Lady in all
her glory is on August 15th, the feast of the assumption. The night before
there is a 9 p.m. torch light procession, then masses all morning, but
the most festive one at 10 a.m. At 3 p.m. a great procession takes Our
Lady through the decorated city.
During the Crusades many a legion would commence its warpath in Le Puy
in the effort to make this a “holy war”, but Our Lady preferred
the way of peace. In 1180, she appeared to a carpenter of Le Puy by the
name of Durand, instructing him to spread the message of peace. She gave
him a document, or seal, bearing an image of the Madonna and child with
the inscription: "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant
us peace." With the Mother's help, Durand formed a peace association that
was instrumental in appeasing the culture of violence inflicted upon the
whole population by aristocratic gangs.(*5) The
association's defense was religious and social renewal under the guidance
of Our Mother. Its members wore white capes which earned them the name