May 4

marian calendar     may

Notre-Dame de Gray, Gray, Haute-Saône, Franche-Comté, France

Statue of 1613

By the 1200s, a cruciform oak tree had become a place of devotion in the Flemish town of Scherpenheuvel (Montaigu in French). In the early 1400s, the shrine became famous after a statue of the Virgin placed on the tree fell down and could not be moved from the spot. But Protestants destroyed the sanctuary in 1568, and in 1604 the tree was cut down. In 1613, a poor widow, Jeanne Bonnet, made a pilgrimage to Montaigu at the age of 70. She brought a piece of the sacred oak home to Salins-les-Bains in eastern France, where sculptor Jean Brange carved a statue of the Virgin from it, after the Belgian original. From 1616 until the French Revolution, this statue presided over a long series of miracles at the Capuchin monastery in the town of Gray, 37 miles away. When the revolutionaries expelled the monks and pillaged the monastery, a family hid the holy image until it could be safely installed in Gray's parish church. In thanksgiving for the end of the 1849 cholera epidemic, Cardinal Mathieu, Archbishop of Besançon, gave the shrine a silver statue covered in gold and jewels, which he dedicated on May 4, 1851, at a ceremony attended by 92 priests, throngs of the faithful, artillery salvos, and the ringing of all the bells in town. Afterward, the parish celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Gray with a procession every May 4. In recent years this has been dropped in favor of a celebration on the Feast of the Assumption August 14-15.

Statue of 1851

Some sources: 

André Jean Marie Hamon, Notre-Dame de France, Paris, 1861
Robert Derome, "La diffusion de la dévotion et de l'iconographie de Notre-Dame de Montaigu," La médaille du baron de Fouencamps et l'iconographie de la Vierge à la Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours,
Diocèse de Besançon,
Louis Leroy, Histoire des pèlerinages de la sainte Vierge en France, Volume 2, 1874
Thierry Sabot, "La vierge de Notre-Dame-de-Gray," Histoire Généalogie, 2002, (picture of 1613 statue, above left)
E. de Valette, "Nouvelles religieuses," L'Ami de la religion, Volume 152, 1851
Ministère de la culture - base Palissy, (picture of 1851 statue, above right)

Also commemorated this date:

St. Mary, Perth, Western Australia, Australia. Cathedral opened, 1930.
Nossa Senhora Mãe dos Homens, Araranguá, Santa Catarina, Brazil (Our Lady Mother of Men). Festa; parish created, 1848.
Onze-Lieve-Vrouw ter zoete Nood Gods, Lede, East Flanders, Belgium (Our Lady of God's Sweet Passion). Statue placed, 1414.
Notre Dame-de-Consolation, Paris, France. Fire burned charity bazaar, 1897; memorial chapel inaugurated, 1901.
Madonna del Presidio, Riolo Terme, Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Rebuilt chapel consecrated, 1926. Festa 1st week May.
Madonna di San Bernardo, Nepi, Viterbo, Latium, Italy
Madonna del Soccorso, Cori, Latina, Latium, Italy (Madonna of Rescue). Apparition to lost girl, 1521. Festa 2nd Sun. May.
Madonna delle Grazie, Modica, Ragusa, Sicily, Italy. Painting discovered on wild cliff, May 4, 1615. Festa 3rd Sun. May.
Nuestra Señora de la Merced, Lañomendi, Vizcaya, Basque Country, Spain. Convent founded, 1384. 
Madre de la Divina Providencia, Olot, Garrotxa, Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Fiesta.
Mare de Déu del Lledó, Castellón de la Plana, Castellón, Valencia, Spain. Statue crowned, 1924. Fiesta 1st weekend May.
Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Cádiz, Andalucia, Spain. Statue crowned, 1947.

Where We Walked ~~~ Mary Ann Daly