Avioth is a small French village located at the Belgium border in the beautiful Gaume region. With less than 150 souls leaving there it is quite surprising to find, in the village center, a gothic Basilica. Let me tell you the Avioth Legend….
Once upon a time,nthe wife of Avioth’s bailiff desperately wanted a church to be built in Avioth and was constantly asking her husband to build one for her.
The bailiff, tried and tried to get someone to built the church but after being unable to find a solution, he called the devil and made a pact with him: if the devil could built the church before the next crowing rooster wake, he would have his soul. But if the devil failed, the bailiff would keep his soul and the church!
The devil was of course up to the challenge and already the church was rising from the ground, the towers were reaching the sky, the rosaces were blossoming, as the devil had called an army of imps to work on the church construction.
As the church was rising, and the morning sunrise was still far, the bailiff told his wife about his pact with the devil and of his imminent fate.
The bailiff’s wife was a resourceful women, and as the Devil was about to add the last stone to the church… suddenly the rooster began to crow! It was the bailiff’s wife who went to wake him up!
Hearing the rooster, the imps fled away and the devil was unable to add the last stone.
And so, the bailiff kept his soul and his wife had her church!
The church was never truly finished as one stone was missing but in 1993, the Pope granted to the Avioth church the Basilica status and made it whole.
I hope they lived happily after!
View of the quire and apse
The original statue that lead to the pilgrim to Notre Dame d’Avioth was mostly destroyed (apart from her head) and was replaced in the 18th century by this one.
Back view of the Gothic Tabernacle
The vaulted ceiling with statues on the pillars
View on the South Ambulatory
The North Aisle
Chapel on the South Aisle just before the Transept
The South transept was bathed in light when got there and it was gorgeous
A typical Lectern
A recumbent effigy
Another more modern statue of Marie
So many details to admire
Considering its location, it is impressive how richly decorated this church is. There are various altars and countless statues.
As you can tell from the above floor plan, the church was firth built in the 11th century and transformed latter to it’s current shape. Not sure which part the devil built 😉
View of the South facade
The unique feature of Notre Dame d’Avioth is this separate building called the Recevresse. It is so unique that the City of Architecture and Heritage in Paris has received a full-size copy in its museum of French monuments.
The Recevresse protects a unique black Virgin (not the original 12th century one) which receives pilgrims offerings. The handcuffs placed on the top of the statue, were apparently left there by prisoners to thank Notre-Dame of Avioth from having delivered them.
The West Portal is richly decorated
The North Facade with the Devil’s door…
If you plan a visit to the Notre Dame d’Avioth Basilica, you need to also visit the Orval Abbaye. It’s in Belgium but very very close and so worth it. Even if it’s just to have a beer 😉
Do you like churches?
If so you need to download my mini guide on Church Architecture vocabulary.
It’s pretty cool!! And useful, and nice and pack with info and nice drawings!!
GO!! It’s free!