April 5

Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation, Moulins, Allier, Auvergne, France

On April 5, 1468, Agnes of Burgundy placed the first stone of a church in Moulins dedicated to Our Lady of the Annunciation, on the site of one dedicated to St. Peter some 500 years earlier. Funded by and long associated with the House of Bourbon, Notre-Dame de Moulins became a cathedral in 1823 after the Catholic Church created the Diocese of Moulins. In 1857, the Flamboyant Gothic building was greatly enlarged in Neo-Gothic style. In 1949, the Pope designated it a Basilica Minor.  

In the Chapel of the Black Virgin is a seated Virgin in Majesty, of dark wood and massive proportions. The Child faces and blesses the viewer, as in the oldest sculptures, but from her right knee, not the middle of her lap, suggesting a date around 1250. That would fit with the popular belief that St. Louis donated the statue, or that a Bourbon knight brought it home from a crusade. In the 1400s it was sealed in a protective covering, and it also used to be dressed, like the Virgins of Spain. There was an old custom of offering this Virgin a wax wheel, like the Black Virgin of Marsat gets on the first Saturday in May.   

The Virgin of Moulins was credited with saving the city from the fire of 1655, which ended abruptly when someone threw her robe into the flames, and from the Germans in World War II. The statue was crowned by Church authority on May 22, 1910.

Also in the cathedral is a beautiful triptych of around 1500 by the Master of Moulins. The central panel shows the Virgin in Glory, with the moon under her feet, symbolic of the Immaculate Conception. The side panels show the donors, Peter II, Duke of Bourbon, and his wife Anne of France, with their daughter Suzanne, kneeling beside their patron saints, Peter and Anne.   

(Information from "Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation de Moulins," fr.wikipedia.org, and other sources. Black Virgin image from lieuxsacres.canalblog.com/archives/moulins__03_allier_/index.html, posted by madame_dulac April 16, 2007. Triptych image from "Peintures des Musées de France: MOULINS," notesdemusees.blogspot.com/2009/06/moulins.html, posted by Jean-Louis Gautreau June 8, 2009.)

Also commemorated this date:

bulletQueen of the Holy Rosary, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Catholic archdiocese consecrated to Mary under this title, 1933.
bulletMariä Heimsuchung, Würzburg, Lower Franconia, Bavaria, Germany (Visitation of Mary). First stone of chapel placed, 1748. 
bulletBeata Vergine del Pianto, Arcene, Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy (Our Lady of the Weeping). Fresco crowned, 1964.
bulletMadonna del Carmine (Madonna Bruna), Naples, Italy. Procession to Rome and miracle of healing, 1500. Feast July 16.
bulletMaria Santissima della Rotonda, Parete, Caserta, Campania, Italy. Painting crowned, 1920.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly