Our Lady of Rocamadour (Notre-Dame
In her sanctuary, near Quercy, Lot department, Midi-Pyrénées, 9th - 12th century (?) though attributed to St. Luke, wood used to be covered in blackened silver of which some strips are still in place, 66 cm.
As a Christian holy site Rocamadour dates back to the
10th century, but as a young priest giving a tour pointed out in 2008:
"People have been praying here for 20,000 years." Indeed just
up the hill in the next village over, one can visit a cave with traces
of neolithic sacred paintings.
Another legend claims this Amadour, besides being all of the above, was
also none other than Zacchaeus, the disciple of Jesus mentioned in the
Bible. This story gives him a wife, Veronica, the woman who, according
to a very common tradition, wiped the face of Jesus during his passion.
Three pilgrims from Gosa were passing through the lonely
wastelands near Saint-Guilhem, when they were led astray by thieves along
remote and impassable tracks, over steep mountains and along valley floors.
The robbers treated these innocent people injuriously and attempted to
steal the property belonging to these poor of Christ. But the advocate
of all mankind, the powerful Lady of Rocamadour, the exceptional star
who lights up the world with her radiance, came to the aid of her servants
as they called out to her. As was proper, she seized hold of the servants
of iniquity, these workers of wickedness, and took away their sight, which
is a human being's most cherished asset. She also paralyzed their hands
and rendered them immobile like statues, out of pity leaving them only
with the use of their tongues so that they could ask for mercy and express
heartfelt penitence. And so with suppliant cries the robbers fell at the
pilgrims' knees and asked that they placate the Lady, who is gentle but
had been offended by their misdeeds, with their prayers and merits. The
pilgrims were moved by the plight of the afflicted men, and their hearts
were touched. They got down on the ground to pray, raised their voices
to heaven, and asked the Lady of Mercy to take pity on the wretches. Then
the unique Mother of Compassion, the people's hope for the forsaken who
broke the necks of the dragon, the restorer of health, restored the thieves'
senses and returned their bodies to their former health.(*1)
*1: Translated and analyzed by Marcus Bull, The Miracles of Our Lady of Rocamadour, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, UK: 1999, pp. 146-7