The story of Our Lady of Bargemon:
There was an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary here on March 17, 1635. Elisabeth Caille, a resident of the village of Bargemon (diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, southern France) had been suffering for 2 years from a constant fever accompanied by a retraction of the nerves, which made her prone to accidents. She fell several times a day, and all medical treatments had proven useless.
On the evening of March 17, 1635, a beautiful pilgrim knocked on the door of Elisabeth’s house. She was dressed in a poor and worn coat, but under it she wore a green velvet dress. Her face of rare beauty was smiling; her hair was long and blond; her eyes shone with a bright and soft light. She wore a little hat the color of her dress, adorned with a gold crown and pearls.
Astonished, Elisabeth asked her where she came from. The lady answered, “From far away,” and asked for directions to the church to pay homage to God. Elisabeth accompanied her there and prayed with her, then she invited the stranger to rest at her place. But the beautiful lady refused, saying that she had come only to cure Elisabeth of her illness and to ask her to make her a dress, for the first one she was wearing was too worn. Having obtained promise of this dress, the pilgrim disappeared.
The next day, white penitents knocked on Elisabeth’s door, carrying a statuette of Our Lady in a box covered with green taffeta. They wanted to ask her husband, who knew the master glassmaker of the region, to provide them with an encasement to house the statuette. Still struck by the vision of the day before, Elisabeth recognized in the statue the beautiful pilgrim who had spoken to her the day before! Her husband therefore went to see his friend the glassmaker to make the required encasement.
On the same day, Elisabeth was completely cured of her illness! The miracle was attested by doctors and by the local bishop. It was the first of a multitude of miracles for all those who have since come to honor and pray to Our Lady of Bargemon.
A day later, Father Sebastien Gache returned from a visit to Belgium and brought with him a small statuette of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel from the Shrine of Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel.
Very quickly, Bargemon became a place of pilgrimage. Our Lady is honored here under the title of Our Lady of Bargemon (a decree of recognition by the local Bishop took place in 1641).
About the Shrine of Our Lady of Bargemon:
The Shrine became an important pilgrimage destination in the 17th and 18th Centuries; however, the French Revolution brought all of that to an end: the chapel was closed and most anything of religious importance was taken from the chapel.
Fortunately, the statue was hidden away, and after the Revolution it was returned to the church. Since then, many works of art have been added to the church, as well as paintings (notably of Our Lady of Bargemon shown above), stained glass windows, altarpieces, statues, etc.
Unfortunately, the church itself fell into a state of disrepair and was basically forgotten except for a handful of local residents who showed up for Mass and the annual pilgrimage. Around 2012 there came a new priest, Fr. Philippe-Marie Métais Fontenel, who had a devotion to our Lady. Upon his arrival he found that the locals had already begun to renew the devotion to Our Lady of Bargemon and the chapel itself.
Today, work continues on the restoration and an increasing number of pilgrims are visiting. In addition, there are several families of Iraqi Christian refugees who have settled in the village and are an addition to the local congregation. You can read an article about this on Aleteia.
Every year, on March 17, a pilgrimage is organized to allow the faithful to renew their devotion to Our Lady of Bargemon.
Finding the Shrine of Our Lady of Bargemon:
Bargemon is a bit hard to find. The nearest major airports are Cannes (20 miles) and Nice (35 miles). You can take the train from Cannes as far as Les-Arcs Draguignan, and from there take a taxi. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here
Address: 17 rue Marceau 83830 Bargemon
Click here for the official website of the Shrine of Our Lady of Bargemon (under construction as of January 2020)