17th June : Our Lady Of The Forest

Our Lady Of The Forest

Country : France

Year : 1419

Britanny is a land noted for its pilgrimages, and that of Folgoet is one of the chief of them.  In 1419 a church took the place of a small chapel of Our Lady in the forest of Lesneven, and it became the center of a big ecclesiastical establishment, with a pilgrim-shrine.

In 1380 there lived, near Lesneven, a good old man named Salaun or Soloman.  He had no one to care for him, lived alone, and did not associate with any person; he walked with his eyes on the ground, but his heart, in Heaven.  Old and crippled as he was, he might be seen every evening hobbling toward the chapel of the Blessed Virgin where he spent most of the night in prayer, after the villagers had returned to their homes.  He was of the woods, and here where the chapel was built, he slept under an oak near a fountain.  He begged for bread, and was often laughed at, jeered at and mistreated by the small boys.

One day while the villagers were on their way to the chapel, they found the old man in the snow, dying of exposure.  They tried to help him, but, with the words “Ave Maria” on his lips, he went to His Queen in Heaven.  Legend further relates that he was buried in an out-of-the-way place, since he had no family to mourn him.  When spring came, a snow-white lily rose from the outcast’s grave, and on the petals in letters of gold were the words, “Ave Maria!”

After a chequered history, the shrine fell into decay and was destroyed by fire during the Revolution.  It was restored by the people in 1818 and the venerated image of Our Lady was brought back and crowned in 1888.  The pilgrimage has grown in popularity ever since.

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