Bar-sur-Seine, France: Shrine Our Lady of the Oak
The history of Our Lady of the Oak:
In the 17th Century, a statue was placed near a tree here. During the ensuing years, many miracles had been reported here and it became a popular place to pray. Over the years, the tree actually grew around the statue, finally encasing it to the point where it could no longer be seen.
Then came the French Revolution, when Churches were desecrated and the Church persecuted. In order to deceive the authorities, a man had placed a similar statue in another tree in the valley, so that when the authorities came, chopped down the tree and desecrated the statue, it was this one and not the original.
And, so it was to the grand-daughter of that man, (a devout Catholic girl named Cecile), that the Blessed Mother chose to reveal herself, and the location of the statue. In 1803, when Cecile and a friend were returning home from the First Communion Mass, and walking along, they saw a lady who was surrounded by young women, all of whom were carrying candles. The woman stopped in front of an oak tree, and suddenly the other young women that had been with her were gone. Next to the tree Cecile saw a statue with lighted candles on each side. However, her friend saw nothing.
Running to a nearby house, she recounted the story, which was met with dis-belief. When she told her father, Monsieur Seure about the experience, he told her to stop telling such stories as they were not true.
Little was said after that, until, on the Feast of the Assumption that same year, an event occurred that would change everyone’s opinion. Cecile’s father, his 3 daughters, and a laborer were walking past the same tree on their way to Mass. Cecile’s younger sister, Marguerite, mentioned that this was the tree where Cecile had claimed to see the vision earlier that year. As he looked over towards the tree, Cecile’s father saw light shining from the tree trunk; however, as Mass was about to begin, they hurried on to the church.
After Mass, they returned to the oak with an axe to see what was inside the tree. By now the entire village had assembled to watch, and when Monsieur Seure cut into the tree, he found a small earthenware statue of the Blessed Mother.
Under the authority of the Archbishop, the Church began an official investigation in 1844. After interviewing over 40 people, the Archbishop proclaimed the vision to be authentic (“worthy of belief”.
About the Church of Notre–Dame–du–Chêne:
A small chapel was built near where the statue was found not long after approval of the apparition. The church is quite small and picturesque. Adoring the walls, you will find hundreds of ex-votos giving thanks for healings and other graces received through invoking Our Lady of the Oak. One of these plaques describes a time when the congregation heard choirs of angels singing along with the priest before Mass.
The Church is now administered by the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.
Traveling to Notre-Dame du Chene:
The shrine is not on many pilgrimage tour itineraries, so independent travel is the main way to get there. There is train service as far as Sable-sur-Sarthe. You can take a taxi for the remaining 7 miles. Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here
Address: 2, rue des Bleuets, 72300, Vion, France
GPS coordinates: 48° 6′ 7.6680” N, 4° 21′ 55.8252” E
Tel: +33 02-43-95-48-01
Click here for the official website of Notre-Dame du Chêne
1. J.-H. Begue, Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame du Chêne, Ornans, 1983;
2. Cf. René LAURENTIN and Patrick SBALCHIERO, Dictionnaire encyclopédique des apparitions de la Vierge. Fayard, Paris 2007.