When Father Paul Buguet (d. 1918) arrived in the village of Montligeon, the place was very poor and the locals were going elsewhere to look for work. In order to provide work for his parishioners, Fr. Paul Buguet became a printer and a quarryman. To light up the path from earth to heaven, he became both a missionary and a builder. Two works—one of social concern, the other more mystical—developed in parallel.
“I was trying to reconcile a double goal: to have people pray for neglected souls, and, at the same time, to obtain through these souls the means by which the worker could make a decent living.”
The church became a place of pilgrimage, so Fr. Buguet had an astonishing basilica built in the “middle of nowhere”: from a distance, one would claim it was a cathedral. He also created a printing company and bought old houses in order to lodge the workers and interpreters ... The outreach rapidly became global.
It is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared in the church, and was seen by the priest and parishioners, dressed humbly and in prayer.
The Basilica’s Hermitage is both the guest-house of the Shrine and the Center of the Spiritual Fraternity of Our Lady of Montligeon. The reception, open throughout the year, is composed of diocesan priests, priests from the Saint Martin Community and sisters from the New Covenant Community, as well as a dedicated lay staff, who ensure a simple and friendly atmosphere. Either in groups or individually, different opportunities are available for retreats, sessions, spiritual weekends preached by the priests and religious of the shrine or other guest speakers. More than 100 spacious, comfortable, well-heated rooms are available year round, as well as several large rooms equipped for seminars and meetings.
A few words about the Basilica:
On entering the Basilica of Montligeon, the visitor discovers the statue of Our Lady dominating the chancel. Cut from a mighty block of Carrara marble, weighing 16 tons, and chosen by Bishop Buguet himself at the beginning of the 20th century, it is the work of the Italian sculptor Tadolini. A great number of pilgrims have come to kneel before this statue and lay down their burdens. The Blessed Virgin presents the Christ Child to two young women at her feet.
Curiously, the two women look alike: Are they sisters? We could perhaps think that they both represent the same person, but in two different states.
The basilica is also decorated with numerous statues of saints and stained glass windows. Saints from the East and the West, both ancient saints and very recent ones ... Their examples remind us of the importance of burning with charity in order to enter Heaven; they also evoke other important attitudes: conversion, prayer for the deceased, missionary zeal and union with Christ.
Site website of the shrine: www.sanctuaire-montligeon.com
Official Book of the shrine: L. Dutot, Le Pelerinage Notre-Dame de Montligeon, Montligeon sanctuaire, 1977.
Adapted from LAURENTIN, Montligeon, in: LAURENTIN and SBALCHIERO,
Dictionnaire encyclopédique des apparitions de la Vierge. Inventaire des origines à nos
jours. Méthodologie, prosopopée, approche interdisciplinaire, Fayard, Paris 2007