Spain: The Sanctuary of Peña de Francia (Our Lady of the Rock)
About Peña de Francia:
As you might guess by the name, this shrine has French origins, probably derived from immigrants who came from France in the 11th and 12th centuries. In the 15th Century a young man from Paris named Simon gave away the wealth he inherited, after the death of his parents, to the Church and other charitable causes. A very devout man, he was known to spend hours praying before an altar of the Virgin Mary. During one such occasion he fell asleep and when he awoke he heard a voice telling him that his name would now be Simon Vela. The voice also told him that he should go to Peña de Francia and there he would find a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
After a great deal of effort he finally did arrive at Pena de Francia, a place that few outside the area even knew existed. The voice again spoke to him, telling him to dig in a certain place and to enlist the help of several local men, this way there would be no accusations that he had placed it there himself. He did as instructed, enlisting several townspeople to help him. On May 19, 1434, after removing a huge stone, they found a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus.
About the Sanctuary of Peña de Francia:
Some years later, the sanctuary came into the hands of the Dominican monks, who built the church, the convent and the hospice to accommodate pilgrims. Unfortunately the statue was stolen in 1872 and then returned in 1889 under the seal of confession. The image was badly deteriorated and so a new one was made and is now on display.
The Shrine is open daily as follows:
Summer schedule (July 1 through August 31) is 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Winter schedule (September 1 through June 30) is 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The Mass schedule is:
Monday through Saturday
12:00 p.m. & 6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. in winter)
Sundays and Holidays:
11:00 a.m., 1:00p.m., 6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. in winter)
Traveling to Peña de Francia:
Located at 5600 feet (1727 meters) the shrine is almost inaccessible in the winter due to snow. And in fact it is quite a rough drive even in the summer, but well worth the effort. Thousands of pilgrims visit here each year and it is a popular site for weddings.
Address: 37620 El Cabaco, Salamanca, Spain
GPS coordinates: 40° 30′ 45.1008” N, 6° 10′ 9.0768” W
Tel: +34 923 16 41 79
Click here for the official website of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rock