acknowledgment to Wikipedia)
Rocamadour has attracted visitors for its setting in a gorge above
a tributary of the River Dordogne, and especially for its historical
monuments and its sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which for centuries
has attracted pilgrims from every country, among them kings, bishops,
and nobles. The chief of them is the pilgrimage church of Notre
Dame (rebuilt in its present configuration from 1479), containing the
cult image at the center of the site's draw, a wooden Black Madonna reputed
to have been carved by Saint Amator (Amadour) himself.
According to the founding legend, Rocamadour is named after the founder
of the ancient sanctuary, Saint Amator, identified with the Biblical
Zacheus, the tax collector of Jericho mentioned in Luke 19:1-10, and
the husband of St. Veronica, who wiped Jesus' face on the way to Calvary.
Driven out of Palestine by persecution, St. Amadour and Veronica embarked
in a frail skiff and, guided by an angel, landed on the coast of Aquitaine,
where they met Bishop St. Martial, another disciple of Christ who was
preaching the Gospel in the south-west of Gaul. After journeying to Rome,
where he witnessed the martyrdoms of St. Peter and St. Paul, Amadour,
having returned to France, on the death of his spouse, withdrew to a
wild spot in Quercy where he built a chapel in honour of the Blessed
Virgin, near which he died a little later.
account, like most other similar legends, does not make its first appearance
till long after the age in which the chief actors are deemed to have
lived. The name of Amadour occurs in no document previous to the compilation
of his Acts, which on careful examination and on an application of
the rules of the cursus to the text cannot be judged older than the
century. It is now well established that Saint Martial, Amadour's contemporary
in the legend, lived in the 3rd not the 1st century, and Rome has never
included him among the members of the Apostolic College. The mention,
therefore, of St. Martial in the Acts of St. Amadour would alone suffice,
even if other proof were wanting, to prove them doubtful.
of the legend has led some recent authors to suggest that Amadour was
an unknown hermit or possibly St. Amator, Bishop of Auxerre, but this
is mere hypothesis, without any historical basis. The origin of the
sanctuary of Rocamadour, lost in antiquity, is thus set down along
traditions which cannot bear up to sound criticism. After the religious
manifestations of the Middle Ages, Rocamadour, as a result of war and
the French Revolution, had become almost deserted.
In the mid-nineteenth
century, owing to the zeal and activity of the bishops of Cahors, it
seems to have revived, and pilgrims and tourists are beginning to crowd
Among the many recorded
pilgrims to Rocamadour are Eleanor of Aquitane, Henry II of England, Louis
IX and Louis XI of France and Charles IV of France.
Main Rocamadour tourist site - click here