Our Lady of Rennes

November 3: Our Lady of Rennes, Brittany, France

Our Lady of Rennes, in Britanny. The English, having made a mine to blow up the town, it is said that the candles in the chapel were found miraculously lighted; the bells rung of themselves, and the image of the Blessed Virgin was seen to stretch out its arms towards the middle of the church, where the mine was, which by that means was discovered. The people rushed to the spot, and so the plot was discovered, and the entire town saved through the intervention of Our Lady of Rennes. Great was the rejoicing and deep the gratitude of the people.

Known today as the Basilica of Saint Sauveur in Rennes, it is located in the heart of historic Rennes, which was once the capital of Brittany. It is situated at the termination of Saint-Sauveur Street on which its façade faces.

As the original Gothic church partially collapsed in the year 1682, the Classical style church that can currently be seen was constructed beginning in 1703 and consecrated in August of 1719.

In the year 1793, during the French Revolution, the church was made into a Temple of Reason, and the miraculous statue of Our Lady was destroyed. It was not until 1802, after the end of the Terror, that the church was opened again to worship. The church was made into a minor basilica in 1916 by Pope Benedict XV.

According to popular tradition there was a famous miracle attributed to Our Lady at Rennes during the War of Succession at Brittany. As Rennes was being besieged by the invading English army under the Duke of Lancaster, the people of the city expected the English forces to mine their way under the walls into the city.

On the night of February 8, 1357, the church bells began to ring of their own accord, and the candles were spontaneously lit. The statue of Our Lady, known as Our Lady of Miracles and Virtues, pointed out a particular slab in the church. The inhabitants of the city thus were alerted to the mine and the point of the English attack, and were able to repulse the invasion. The miracle was a popular subject for ballads, especially the troubadour Cuvelier. In 1634 the miracle was officially recognized by the Bishop of Rennes, Pierre Cornulier.

There are many miracles attributed to Our Lady, including the miraculous healing of Magdalene Morice in the year 1761. She had gangrene in her right foot which was instantly healed on Easter Sunday.

The statue of Our Lady of Miracles and Virtues currently displayed at the basilica was placed there in February of 1876.

In 1684 a boy of eleven left home for the city of Rennes in hopes of enrolling at the Jesuit College of Thomas a Becket. The young Louis-Marie was an intelligent boy who was taken under the guidance of the Jesuit priests, and it was at Rennes that he began to consider a possible vocation to the priesthood. It was here at the shrine of Our Lady at Rennes that Saint Louis de Montfort made the final decision to become a priest.

*from The Woman in Orbit and other sources

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