Sunday, March 7, 2010

Aucamville Project 2: Chapelle St. Jean-Baptiste de Marguestaud

Long ago, this was an important place of pilgrimage; those with fevers used to come here on the feast day of St. John the Baptist. They had to throw some coins into the spring of Laparra [parra--"grapevine", or "climbing vine"] and leave without looking back.

The chapel was made out of baked-mud clay
[torchi--mud mixed with sand, straw and lime] in 1713 on the site of a much older chapel; it is a typical example of building methods in the area.

It was a pilgrimage site each year on 24th of June, chosen because of a nearby natural fountain. After touching or drinking the sacred water pilgrims set of for another magical spot at Beaupuy.

Local memory has it that the fountain spontaneously healed upset stomachs. This
little Lourdes has not stood the test of time, perhaps the Revolution wiped it out.

It was part of the priory of Aucamville until the 13th century. In the 16th century it became an annex of Saint Barthélemy of Aucamville.

The sacred fountain still flows in the middle of a field and serves as a water trough for the farm animals of the owner; needless to say the animals are all in excellent health.

Architecturally speaking, it is probably unique in the region.


I translated this moons ago from a pamphlet I can no longer find, so I can't credit it. The details are quite slim, but I think it's interesting in the context of our last post about the sacred spring at Aubets and the healing waters of Lourdes (which the author did not fail to notice).

See also our post on St. Fris, which recounts a legend in which a king and his valet transform seven gold coins into even greater wealth by submersing them in water on the night of St. Jean. This night also appears in relation to Aubets; a nearby hill was a site of important celebrations on this day since before the Christian era.

There are other parallels to the St. Fris legend, which suggest more concrete links between the Virgin, various saints and healing waters--St. Fris earned his moniker when his tomb became a healing spring. Fris is also linked to St. Jacques, who features prominently in the Chapel of Notre Dame de Aubets and whose symbol, incidentally, is a seashell.

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