This Black Madonna's sacred water reputedly heals depression, languor,
and apathy. It certainly lifted the spirits of our little group
A hand written 'historic notice' in the chapel tells the story
of the place: Some time in the 16th century a shepherd roamed these
parts with his sheep. He stopped to rest at the source of fresh
water that emerged at the foot of a venerable, old tree. He had
sculpted a Virgin and Child out of a piece of Oak and now decided
that a hollow in the tree above the spring would be the right place
for his statue. The artist signed his work, so to say, with his
mark: the Virgin holds a sheep's foot in her right hand.
In the 17th century the old tree died and collapsed. That's when
the first chapel was built to house Our Lady of Font Sainte. When
that structure was near ruin in the 18th century it was replaced
by the present chapel, which was inaugurated shortly before the
Revolution. Many pilgrims would gather here, especially on the 15th
of August, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary into heaven (which
is a national holiday in France).
During the troubled period following the Revolution the Virgin
was hidden and thus saved from profanation. The sanctuary was sold
into the private hands of some nobleman. When order returned to
France, the statue was placed once more into her chapel, where worship
and masses could resume once more.
In 1950 the chapel was completely restored and the humble little
sanctuary received a great privilege: Pope Pius XII ordained that
those who would attend mass here on any feast day of Mary would
have all their sins forgiven if they asked for it.
Interesting how this Dark Mother is portrayed with African traits
in the banner, but not in the relief over the spring. This shows
that some associate Black Madonnas with Africans, while others do
not. (More on this in the introduction.)
It's a humble, but healing spring