Photographer's Note

Avioth (103 inhabitants) is located in the French department of the Meuse. This small village is adorned in quite an unexpected manner with a wonderful Gothic basilica built between 1250 and 1400. Avioth, situated on the border of Belgium, owes its existence to pilgrimage. According to tradition, shepherds discovered a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a thorn bush. A shrine was built during the second part of the eleventh century on the site of the discovery, perhaps under the influence of the Cistercians of the Abbey of Orval nearby. Pilgrims coming to venerate the statue of the Virgin became so great in number that the modest shrine quickly proved to be too small. A new church was built during the second half of the thirteenth-century. The secular pilgrimage of Our Lady continues to this day. Each year on July 16th many inhabitants of the region as well as Belgians and Luxembourgers come to pray and participate in the procession. In 1993, Pope John Paul II acknowledged the importance of the pilgrimage by giving the church the title of basilica.

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Additional Photos by chris Protopapas (diafani) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 157 W: 7 N: 96] (1143)
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