Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Notre Dame du Suc - Our Lady of the Sap

This is a lovely example of what I call an "ancient madonna" medal.  It shows "Notre Dame du Suc" or "Our Lady of the Sap" with the inscription, "Notre Dame du Suc P.P.N." (Priez Pour Nous or Pray For Us).  Ancient madonna medals are struck to commemorate a pilgrimage site that features a statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child.  These statues are similar to black madonnas, but - they're not black.  Both black and ancient madonna statues typically have interesting stories attached to their finding, and the story of Notre Dame du Suc is a good example.

In the 8th century, a shepherd named Jacques or Jacobus, found a small transparent stone statue of the Madonna and Child in a tree near Brissac, France.  (I think this must be the origin of the statue's unusual title "Our Lady of the Sap or Our Lady of the Juice.  Maybe it was a really sappy tree that they found her in.)  Nobody knew where the statue came from or who had left it there, so it was considered to be a miracle.

A group of Benedictine monks who had an orphanage in Brissac wanted to build a chapel to this beautiful little madonna in a spot that would be convenient to worshippers.  The chose a large vacant area on the path from Brissac to Moulin Neuf for their building site.  When the chapel was finished, the statue was placed there with great ceremony; however, the next morning the statue had disappeared from the chapel and was found back in her original tree.  This happened every time the statue was moved, so the Benedictines came to the decision that the Madonna wanted to be left where she was.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find out what the Benedictines did next - did they just leave the statue there?  In the rain?  Did they build a new chapel on the site where the statue was found?  (That's what usually happens in these stories.)  It's a mystery to me! 

Anyway, the story jumps from here to 16th century when Jean de Courdurier, a councilor to King Louis XIV, asked Notre Dame du Suc for the blessing of a child with his wife, Marie Rey de la Croix.  A year later she gave birth to a son.  In thanksgiving, de Courdurier had the chapel entirely rebuilt and a new statue of the Madonna and Child carved.  This statue can be seen in the current church of Notre Dame du Suc which was constructed in 1875.

Notre Dame du Suc is invoked for protection of people in the military.  The church of Notre Dame du Suc is still a popular pilgrimage destination.  It has a rough and stony path featuring the stations of the cross that rises up the mountain on which the church is situated.  At the end of the path, there is a beautiful statue of Notre Dame du Suc along with amazing views of the entire valley. 

source:  http://nddusuc.free.fr/index.php?lng=fr

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