On August 10, 1519, a woodcutter named John de la Baume went up to the top of Mount Verdaille. He was alone. As usual, he began his day in prayer. As he rose from his knees, he saw a cloud in which the Virgin holding the Christ Child and Saint Joseph appeared, surrounded by the archangel Saint Michael and Saint Bernard of Claivaux. Our Lady was standing with her feet on a crescent moon. She delivered the following message to John: “Go and tell the Consuls and the clergy of Cotignac to build a chapel here dedicated to Our Lady of Graces, and come in procession to receive the graces that I want to grant.” The next day, in the same place, John had the same apparition and received the same request.
The first stone of the shrine was laid on September 14, 1519.
On June 7, 1660, at about one o’clock in the afternoon, a young shepherd from Cotignac, 22 year-old Gaspard Ricard, was watching his flock of sheep on the eastern slopes of Mount Bessillon. The heat was oppressive and Gaspard was thirsty. Suddenly, he saw “a man at his side” who pointed to a rock, saying: “I am Joseph; lift this rock and you can drink.” Gaspard had his doubts because the rock looked heavy. The apparition repeated his instructions. The shepherd obeyed, moving the rock without difficulty, and found a source.
The shrine became a basilica
On March 17, 1521, Pope Leo X issued a bull granting a series of indulgences to pilgrims coming to Cotignac under certain conditions.
On Feb. 21, 1660, Louis XIV and his mother Anne of Austria made a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Our Lady of Graces.
The statue was crowned in 1938.
In 2005, Bishop Dominique Rey, bishop of Frejus-Toulon, had the basilica built.
A vibrant shrine today
Today, local pilgrimages are organized on August 10, 11 and 15 and on September 8. About 100,000 pilgrims participate.
The year 2008 witnessed the crowning of the statue of the Virgin. On that occasion, a symposium on the theme “Mary Mediatrix of All Graces” was held as well as a grand celebration of Our Lady' Nativity on September 8, 2008.
Each year, the feast of St Joseph is the opportunity for pilgrimages called "caravans" coming from different towns in the region.
Excerpts from SBALCHIERO article Cotignac, in LAURENTIN and SBALCHIERO, Dictionnaire encyclopédique des apparitions de la Vierge. Fayard, Paris 2007.
Pilgrims Association of Our Lady of Graces - Shrine of Our Lady of Graces - 83570 COTIGNAC
Secretariat: 33.4 94 69 64 90 - Fax 33.4 94 69 64 91
Store: 33.4 94 69 64 92
sanctuairend-de-gracescom: for religious matters or information on accomodation;
programmend-de-gracescom: For questions regarding the programs at the shrines;
webmasternd-de-gracescom: for questions or comments concerning their website;
freresnd-de-gracescom: to join the Brothers of St John in Cotignac.
The official website will give you more information : www.nd-de-graces.com