Christmas Novena to the Christ Child, Day Eight:
Notre-Dame de Ardilliers de Saumur / Our Lady of Ardilliers, Saumur, Anjou, France (1454) – 23 December:
Our Lady of Ardilliers, located at Saumur, in Anjou, France. Its name is illustrious throughout France, as well on account of the concourse of people who were attracted there, as from a fountain which cured several maladies. This image represents Our Lady of Pity, who holds in her arms her dead Son, whose head is supported by an Angel.
Notre Dame Ardilliers has a Statue, a fountain and a Church dedicated to Our Ladye.
In 1454 a farmer, while ploughing his field, discovered in the “ardille” ( meaning “clay” – a word which will give its name, according to the legend, to Notre-Dame-des-Ardilliers) a stone Statuette of about thirty centimeters high representing a Pietà . The peasant took it home. On two occasions he discovered the Pietà had returned to its place of discovery, near a fountain already known for its beneficial virtues. From then on, devotions began. It was placed in a niche under a stone arch at its place of discovery.
Jean Olivier , Bishop of Angers , laid the foundations of the Notre-Dame-des-Ardilliers Chapel in Saumur on1 August 1534 in the presence of Jean de Castagnier, Mayor of Saumur and Guillaume Bourdeau, Alderman. Msgr Gabriel Bouvery , Bishop of Angers, Consecrated the new Church on 30 July1553
Crowds of people were attracted to the Shrine and its name was illustrious throughout that country, for there Our Lady cured many maladies.
The Sanctuary attained magnificent proportions as successive additions were made, notably by Cardinal Richelieu. Devotion to Our Lady became widespread as many miracles occurred.
Mary’s clients at Ardilliers number such illustrious persons as Louis XII, Anne of Austria, Marie de Medici, Henrietta of England, Cardinal Richelieu and others. The Founders of the Sulpician Company went there for inspiration; Saint Louis de Montfort begged blessings and Mary’s help on the Institute of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost and the Daughters of Wisdom he was about to found.
Cities placed themselves under the protection of Notre-Dame des Ardilliers and promised annual pilgrimages. During the Revolution the Church and Shrine were despoiled of their treasures but not destroyed and the image was left unharmed. In 1849 the ravages of time necessitated the renovation of the Chapel and pilgrimages became more frequent than ever.
And today? We hardly speak of the Pilgrimages to Ardilliers but guided tours of the remarkable architectural continue. In July and August, except on Sundays, the Association Patrimoine Religieux en Saumurois, in partnership with the City of Saumur, provides guided tours of the Notre-Dame des Ardilliers Chapel. We are very saddened aren’t we, that this former great Marian Shrine has become today, above all a tourist destination. So why shouldn’t one of our readers launch a Pilgrimage to Notre-Dame des Ardilliers. This would justify its second name, Notre-Dame de Bon Retour, Our Lady of Good Return.
St John of Kanty/Cantius (1390-1473) (Optional Memorial) Priest, Theologian, Scholastic Philosopher, Physicist, Teacher, Confessor, Philosopher, Apostle of Charity – Patron of Poland and Lithuania
His Feast Day is 20 October (Poland, General Roman Calendar 1770–1969)
St Besa of Egypt
St Dagobert II of Austrasia
Bl Epifanio Gómez Alvaro
St Frithbert of Hexham
Bl Hartmann of Brixen
Bl Herman of Scheda
Bl James Aymerich
St Ivo of Chartres (c 1040-1115) Bishop, Confessor
St John Cirita
St John Stone
St Joseph Cho Yun-ho
St Mardonius of Rome
St Mazota of Abernethy
St Migdonius of Rome
Blessed Nicolás Factor-Estaña OFM (1520-1583) Priest of the Order of Friars Minor, Painter, Preacher, Ascestic, Spiritual Director.
St Servulus (Died c 590) Layman, Beggar, paralysed by Palsy from birth. Saint Servulus was a perfect model of submission to the divine Will; it would be difficult to offer a more consoling example to persons afflicted by poverty, illnesses and the other miseries of life. It is Saint Gregory the Great who narrates for us his edifying story.
St Servulus’ Life of devotion:
Martyred Dominicans of Santander – (9 beati) – Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Bernardino Irurzun Otermín
• Blessed Eleuterio Marne Mansilla
• Blessed Eliseo Miguel Lagro
• Blessed Enrique Cañal Gómez
• Blessed Enrique Izquierdo Palacios
• Blessed Epifanio Gómez Alvaro
• Blessed José María García Tabar
• Blessed Manuel Gutiérrez Ceballos
• Blessed Miguel Rodríguez González
• Blessed Pedro Luís y Luís
Martyrs of Crete – (10 saints): A group of ten Christians who died in the persecutions of Decius. They were –
• Agathopus • Basilides • Cleomenes • Eunician • Euporus • Evaristus • Gelasius • Saturninus • Theodulus • Zeticus They were martyred in 250 on the island of Crete.