There is a beautiful shrine two and half miles from Langon, France, in the diocese of Bordeaux. This small basilica is dedicated to Our Lady Consoler of the Afflicted.
In 1112, a knight from Aquitaine (a region in southwestern France), called Geraud de Graves, returned to his native land after participating in the First Crusade, which was a military expedition by the Roman Catholic Church to regain the Holy Land taken in the Muslim conquests of the Levant (632-661). Graves chose to retire in the Valley "Du Luc" where the town of Verdelais is located today, to live as a hermit. He built a chapel to house a statue of a Virgin Mary he claimed to have brought back from Bethlehem. He died in 1159.
Shortly after his death, the locality of "Du Luc" was given to the young hermitic order of the Grandmontains, founded in 1125 in the region of Limousin, France.
In 1185, a blind man was miraculously cured at Verdelais. This was the first of countless miracles and graces that have caused crowds of people to visit Our Lady's shrine. Many ex-votos, which have been left as offerings, hang on the walls as witnesses to these heavenly favors.
The Shrine of Verdelais went through difficult times throughout its long history: the Hundred Years' War, the wars of religion during the 16th century, and the French Revolution. But it also enjoyed luminous periods, such as:
After inviting the Marist Fathers from Lyons to move to Verdelais, Cardinal Donnet enlarged the church, built a tall steeple with a statue of the Virgin at the top, and installed a monumental Way of the Cross on a nearby hill, leading to the famous Calvary.
After a Passionist era, the shrine was entrusted in 2007 to a Marianist religious community.
For the 900th anniversary of the shrine, in 2012, the diocese of Bordeaux restored the hostel, to accommodate pilgrims and visitors.
The polychrome wooden statue of Our Lady Consoler of the Afflicted, venerated at Verdelais, dates from the early 14th century. It stands at the center of the altarpiece. On solemn feasts, it is dressed with one of its many beautiful and venerable robes.
Daily Devotion, Pilgrimages and Feast Day
Mass, vespers, and the Rosary are recited each day in the basilica.
From winter to spring, many pilgrimages come regularly to Verdelais: fathers, mothers, travelers, hikers, choirs, families, and several religious communities (Good Shepherd, Christ the Redeemer, etc.).
In addition to a great number of pilgrims and visitors, the Shrine of Our Lady of Verdelais receives catechetical groups, schools, parishes and more.
The patronal feast of the shrine is on September 8th, the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin.
Prayer to Our Lady of Verdelais :
Hail Mary, Mother of all Christians.
I stand before your statue, long revered at Verdelais, calling you by your title of Consoler of the Afflicted.
I have come to pray for all those who, in this world, suffer in their body or in their soul.
I pray for the whole Church of Jesus Christ: obtain for all its members an enlightened faith, a more joyful hope, and a charity that accepts sacrifice.
Help all the faithful to make Jesus Christ known.
I pray to you, Our Lady, for priestly and religious vocations. Grant light and strength to all those who work for the Kingdom of God anywhere in the world.
Pray for us, Our Lady, that God may hear our prayers. We have a great need for peace, justice, forgiveness, friendship and mutual assistance.
Pray for little children, that their hearts may know the love of God and their neighbor.
Help the youth prepare themselves for a beautiful and fulfilling future.
Help families to live in unity, peace and fidelity.
In your kindness, help all those who have been wounded in this life, those who have experienced failure, bereavement, and material or moral poverty.
Help all your children to love one another, to be open to others. Also pray for the departed, who are still in Purgatory
Assist us at the hour of our death, so that we may praise God forever in your company.
Our Lady of Verdelais, pray for us!
The large amount of prayer intentions left at the foot of the Pieta are a testimony to the confidence felt by those who come to entrust their sufferings and concerns to Our Lady the Consoler. Even today, many come back with personal gifts of ex-votos to express their gratitude.
Fr. Robert Witwicki sm, current Rector of the Shrine, 2012.