Basilica Notre Dame d’Avesniéres, Laval!

In my travels in my belle France, I have come luckily to see many beautiful sights some very popular: however, I have ,also, gone from the mainstream into the countryside and even in town to neighborhood not frequently travel all thanks for my enthusiasm for walking seeing all this beauty and car travel deep into these gorgeous spots. I have come here before.

The travel have taken me to Laval with the family and written on it before here in my blog. However, I believe this Basilica needs a space of its own in my blog. Beautiful architecture, history, and just quaint location in beautiful Laval.  Let me give you for reference that previous blog post here: Laval in Pays de la Loire

So now, let me tell you a bit more of the Basilique Notre Dame d’Avesniéres , Laval.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame Avesnières is located in Laval, in the department of Mayenne,50 in the region of Pays de la Loire. It is located in the district of Avesnières, on the right bank of the Mayenne river and south of the city center. The Church has existed at least since the 11C, but it got its present appearance in the 12C, when the Benedictines set up a priory here. The nuns left Avesnières during the Hundred Years ‘ War and the Church then became a simple parish Church. It was raised to the rank of minor Basilica in 1898, by Pope Leo XIII. The Romanesque-style basilica, also has a bell tower that combines Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Its nave, storied and punctuated with vaulted Chapels in cul-de-furnace, is its most remarkable element. The Basilica finally has a number of ancient statues. The Church appears on the list of the first 1 034 French historical monuments classified in 1840!

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A bit more history I like

Originally a monastic village attested from the middle of the 11C in a charter of the Tourangelle Abbey of Marmoutier, the existence of a Church in Avesnières seems to be linked to the power exercised by the family of Saint Berthevin. In 1073, Guérin de Saint-Berthevin installed a community of nuns from the Ronceray of Angers. The foundation of this priory is accompanied by the granting of important rights, including that of founding a borough. The village of Avesnières was nevertheless devastated around 1430 by an English ride led by the Earl of Arundel. Despite an important reconstruction phase following the Hundred Years ‘ War, Avesnières did not enjoyed the same demographic dynamism as its powerful neighbors. Finally meeting in the town of Laval in 1863, the old village still retains a strong identity supported by the erection of the Church to the rank of Basilica by Pope Leo XIII.

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A bit on the architecture, briefly.

The Church of Avesnières is endowed with a remarkable nave, the foundations of which date from the first half of the 12C. At that time, the choir was adorned with an ambulatory, which quickly came to graft 5 radiant or apsidioles Chapels. A few years later, a new work campaign raised the arch of the choir at a height of 17 meters. The work was completed   in 1534 by crowning the Crusader tower with a magnificent finely arrow in yellow stone from Poitou.

The end of the 19C marks the revival of the Church. In 1873, the octagonal arrow was identically restored. Ten years later worked on the reconstruction of the Church portal was done in Neo-Romanesque style, this one takes in part the elevation of the monumental entrance as in the Cathedral of Le Mans. The ornamentation of the work produced in 1890 three interesting bas-reliefs, including a magnificent coronation of the Virgin. The other two scenes represent the miracles that occurred on the site.

The Ambulatory, where the pilgrim is walking around the choir, presents an important testimony of the ornamental art of the 12C. The Capitals located between the first and second apsidiole on the north side attest to the various regional influences which have presided over their realization. There are simple motifs such as lacrosses reminiscent of Breton themes or figures of monsters more commonly representative of the art of the Loire Valley. An extraordinary medieval bestiary the choir’s capitals, particularly in the southern part, present a more elaborate iconographic register. The plant motifs gradually leave room for representations of more or less fantastic animals such as basil (half-rooster, half-lizard) or the dragon, perceived by contemporaries as personifications of evil. The symbolic of this medieval bestiary has reached us through the writings of Hugues de Saint-Victeur and Isidore of Seville. Supporting statues of popular devotion a benevolent Virgin the Church choir is adorned with two statues dated from the end of the Middle Ages. The first, located at the level of the Tribune, represents Notre-Dame, whose body of stone clad in precious ornaments, was once worn at the head of the procession during the large processions. Placed in the central arcade of the Roundabout, a beautiful cross of Christ. The ends of the instrument of the torment are decorated with quad welcoming the symbols of the four Evangelists. A very surprising practice at the entrance of the sanctuary, a monumental Saint Christophe raised in 1583 by subscription of parishioners made during a representation of Christ Savior dated from the 14C. Wearing the papal tiara, this statue holds its originality from the upward movement it releases. This surprising posture made the parishioners believe that, sheltered from the eyes, the statue rested on its feet. For a long time it was accepted that a needle should be planted in his heel to see a wish to be fulfilled.

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The tradition is that the Church was founded by Guy, Lord of Laval, who, falling into the water wanting to cross the river, would have been miraculously saved from drowning by the Virgin and transported safely to the river bank. The place would then have been chosen, in remembrance of this miraculous rescue, to host a sanctuary dedicated to Notre-Dame. This beautiful story is the legend that allow mother Peret de Montbron, mother prioress of Avesnières, who in the 15C, by flattering the pride of the Lords of Laval, managed to obtain the necessary subsidies for the reconstruction of his Church. The vow of Monsignor Casimir Wicart, first Bishop of Laval, in the face of the anxiety provoked by the advance of the Prussian troops in 1871, decided to organise a large prayer vigil in Avesnières. At this ceremony, the faithful assembled take an oath to rebuild the Church if Notre Dame saves the city from foreign occupation. The next day, the Prussians were stop in Saint-Melaine, at the gates of Laval, when the Virgin appeared in a small village in the north by the town of  Pontmain.

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A webpages to help you plan your trip here and see this beautiful Basilica in addition to my post is

Tourist office of Laval on the Basilica

There you go, a wonderful  Basilica in lovely Laval, indeed and full of history with beautiful architecture as well. A worth a detour for sure. Enjoy it

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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