Rocamadour Part Two

Rocamadour’s first important patron was Henry 11 of England, who endowed much of his treasure to Rocamadour. His eldest son, the Young King Henry Court-Mantel, stole the treasure along with the Black Madonna in 1183 to pay for his routiers in his war against his father: he even so the legion goes, replaced the Durandel with his own sword.

He had not gone very far when the Black Madonna got her revenge, striking young Henry down with a fever. Full of remorse, he asked his father to forgive him, had an alter put on his neck and laid naked in a bed of ashes and died.

The Bishop of Limoges gave him absolution for his sins due to his father promising that he would replace Rocamadour’s treasure.
 

Basilique-St-Sauveur built into the rock face during the 11th and 13th Century’s is truly stunning.
 

Over the alter hangs a painted wooden 16th Century Christ shown crucified on a tree, his right side pierced by a lance instead of the customery left side.
 

St Amadour relic, who’s bones where hacked to bits during the Wars of Religion by the Huguenot Captain Bessonies who desecrated the shrine.
 

Many of the ships on display are from the Breton Sailors who held the Black Madonna in high esteem.
 

Darkened by candle smoke the Magnificent Black Madonna still holds court today. She is carved out of walnut in the 11Century and sits quite stiffly on her throne with the Christ child balanced on her knees.
 

Outside various walls are decorated depicting various scenes from the Annunciation and Visitation. These two skeleton figures are pleading for salvation.
 

Further up an hairpin walk lined with the Stations of the Cross takes you up to the ramparts of the Château, built in the 14th Century to defend the shrines.
 

Engraved tunnel of copied tombstones, and pledges is fascinating to read.
 

In order to see Rocamadour arrive early in the morning in July and August. Better still arrive in the Spring, Autumn or Winter to avoid the tourist season.
 
 

Events:-

Sarlat : Napoleon Bonaparte, with Josephine and some of his army (complete with a cannon) will arrive for the Historic Weekend which starts tomorrow. Lets just hope for fine weather.

Daglan : The 8 à Huit Supermarket will be closed from the 21st September to the 28th September.

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Rocamadour Part One

Voted “the most favourite village in France 2016” it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built dramatically into an overhanging cliff high above the gorge of the Alzou in the Lot Department. It owes its fame and fortune to the late 11th Century cult of the Black Madonna, whose shrine was promoted by the Benedictines at Tulle and who built an hospital next to Rocamadour for the passing pilgrims.

In 1166 a man’s body was found near to the alter. This the Benedictines announced was St Zaccheous, who was the publican who climbed the tree to see Jesus. After the crucifixion he fled with his wife and settled in Limoges. When his wife died he went to live as an hermit and built the first sanctuary in the cliff face. The local people called him”the lover”, or Amator for his devotion, hence Roc-Amadour, the rock of the lover or lover of rock.

The pilgrim road enters Rocamadour by way of the 13thC Porte du Figuier, which is one of four gates that defended the villages.
 

Once through the gate you walk past the various shops and souvenir stands. Selling everything from postcards, ornaments, gorgeous linen tablecloths to ice cream and cakes.
 

To get to the Basilique St-Sauveur you will need to climb the 223 steps or use the lift. In the days of pardon, pilgrims and criminals would climb the steps on their knees in order to be forgiven for their sins. They were bound in chains and led to the Black Madonna where they would pray and then the priest would strike of the chains and give them a lead metal with a picture of the Black Madonna to take back to their village as proof of absolution.
 


 

Another attraction is the Durandal, the famous sword of Roland; the legendary paladin of Charlemagne. Just before he died at Roncesvalles, Roland confined his blade to St Michael.

The Archangel hurled the sword from the Pyrenees straight into Rocamadour’s cliff where the sword sits high above supported by a chain.
 

The workmanship is outstanding.
 

A close up of one of the towers.
 

 

Les Montgolfiades-Rocamadour


23rd and 24th September is the Annual two day hot air balloon festival with participants from all over Europe.