In 47 or 70 A.D., a woman from Ruessium named Vila who was suffering from a high fever asked to be carried to the top of Mount Anicius. She was laid on a megalithic dolmen that crowned the hill which had the reputation of healing fevers. This dolmen was in fact called "the stone of fevers." Vila fell asleep there, and the Virgin appeared to her in a dream. She asked Vila to go to see the local bishop named George, and ask him to build a church on that spot. The sign the lady would give him would be Vila's cure. When she awoke, Vila felt cured. She went to see Bishop George, who received her well. The prelate hiked to the summit of Mount Anicius with the rest of his clergy. The exact spot where the Virgin had appeared was snow-covered, in the middle of July: there was the outline of the foundations of the future edifice in the snowfall around the dolmen made by a deer. The bishop had a wooden fence erected around the place that would become one day the altar site of the Cathedral of Le Puy en Velay.
More than a century after this miraculous occurrence, in 221, the Blessed Virgin accompanied by angels appeared to a paralyzed woman from the village of Ceyssac, and also told her to go to Mount Anicius to be cured. When the woman reached the fence, she was instantly cured. The Virgin appeared to her to ask for a proper church to be built on that holy ground. Bishop Vosy, the then bishop of the diocese, climbed the hill himself, and then went to Rome to meet Pope Callistus I (C. 155-222). The holy pontiff gave permission for the construction of a basilica. Provided by Wikipedia
(See pictures of Cathedral and dolmen stone.)
Another thing that fascinated me about the Cathedral was that it is the site of many pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in Northwestern Spain. The pilgrimages peaked in the 12th century but continued on into the 18th century. In the last 30 years it has again grown in popularity. The pilgrimage starts in Le Puy and goes to the site of the burial of St. James the Apostle. It is hard to imagine that the bones are really his- but the pilgrimages have meaning for many people.
The Cathedral holds a mass at 7am every morning to bless the pilgrims and send them on their way. Often the Bishop meets with the pilgrims personally. All are given a specially minted coin that is symbolic of the beginning of their journey. They leave through a special “hole” in the floor. The Cathedral is built on a hill and as they expanded it over time, they built outward with pylons to support the church floor. So there are these big hollow areas under the Cathedral. There is a grate in the floor of the Cathedral which is raised so that the pilgrims can descend down these stairs and out of the Cathedral. It is really unique. (See pilgrim's exit)
A place where our sisters surely came was to the L’hopitial, where poor pilgrims would stay on their way to Campestelo. Next to it is the Chapel of St. Clair. Interestingly, this was not always a Catholic spot. Carved above the doorway are symbols showing the phases of the moon. This was considered the “Temple of Diana” in pre-Christian times. The Chapel of Saint Michael, atop the mountain was a Druid place of worship also prior to Christian times. (See pcitures of Chapel below)
In the center of the market place a tree and a monument mark the site where many were guilotined during the French Revolution, including two Sisters of St. Joseph. (See picture of tree)
Across the street from that is the building where Bishop De Maupas would have conducted his secular business, probably including writing up the secular documents that allowed the Sisters of St. Joseph to be formed. He probably had meetings with Jean Pierre Medaille in this building. (see picture of civic building.)
|Cathedral in Le Puy|
|Exit for Pilgrims|
|Chapel of St. Clair|
|Above the door are the symbols of the phases of the moon.|
|Special code for Christians letting them know there were others in the town|
|Site of the Guillotine|
|Civic Building where business would have been conducted by Bishop De Maupas|