The site of Rocamadour is grandiose. The Alzou canyon, a small intermittent river, has cut a huge fault in the limestone plateau forming the Causse de Gramat. Man found refuge here as early as the Upper Paleolithic. The wild beauty of the site, conducive to contemplation, probably favoured the presence of a hermitage around a modest oratory to the Virgin protected by the rock shelter formed by the cliff and mentioned for the first time in texts at the very beginning of the 11th century. A century later, skillfully orchestrated by the Viscounts of Turenne and their protégés, the Abbots of Tulle, a pilgrimage to the Virgin took off exceptionally well...

The small oratory had been given by the Bishop of Cahors Déodat to the abbey of Marcilhac-sur-Célé and a monk was in charge of maintaining the site. Elderly, weary of the distances to be covered, he made the imprudence of entrusting the task to a monk from Mayrinhac-le-Francal*, a priory very close to Rocamadour but dependent on the abbey of Saint-Martin de Tulle in Corrèze. The coveted place was finally within reach of the abbots of Tulle! Nothing could stop them anymore, not even the long trial with the monks of Marcilhac, not even the pope who, on the contrary, supported the Limousin abbey by confirming to them twice in 1105 and 1115 the possession of "the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary". We owe to the abbots of Tulle, and particularly to the abbot Géraud d'Escorailles, the development and organisation of the pilgrimage first mentioned in 1112. Sensing a pilgrimage of international scope, he had a real religious city built in the second half of the 12th century. He relied on the Cistercian abbey of Obazine to found the "barns" necessary for the food supply of the city and his successors promoted the foundation of hospitals for the reception and care of pilgrims. Providence" gave them a serious helping hand on several occasions, in 1159 when Henry II Plantagenet went on pilgrimage to Rocamadour, then in 1166 when a corpse was discovered intact under the threshold of the chapel of the Virgin... the body of Amadour, whose servant of the Virgin, the servant of Christ or Zacchaeus, was made over the centuries! Finally in 1172, the Book of Miracles of Our Lady appeared, 126 miracles written by an anonymous monk whose account spread throughout Christianity. Pilgrims flocked, not only from France, but also from England, Flanders, Germany, Spain, Italy and even from countries in the Near East. The pilgrimage is also a royal atonement; Henri II Plantagenet, Saint-Louis, Philippe IV le Bel and many other crowned heads will come, undoubtedly bringing the necessary gifts for the construction or embellishment of the sanctuaries.

The village of Mayrinhac-le-Francal is located 5 km north of Rocamadour. A peaceful and preserved village, it has an extraordinary church whose foundations date back to the middle of the 11th century and some remarkable medieval houses.

The must-see places in Rocamadour

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