Basilica of Our Lady of Brebières

Albert, France

The Basilica of Our Lady of Brebières is a Roman Catholic Basilica designed by Edmond Duthoit in 1897. The structure was completely destroyed during shelling in World War I and rebuilt by the original architect's son Louis Duthoit from 1927 to 1931. The Golden Virgin sculpture deisigned by Albert Roze sits atop the dome of the Basilica and became an object of fascination during World War I.

Pope Leo XIII granted a decree of Pontifical coronation to the venerated image enshrined within on 19 June 1901. Pious legends among soldiers at the time claimed a superstitious prophecy that when a German missile hits the prominent Marian statue above the church, the First World War would finally end.

The Basilica started out as a parish church. In the 11th century many Catholics made pilgrimages to the parish church on the site to see a statue called Our Lady of the Ewes according to legend it had been found by a shepherd in the Middle Ages. Catholics passed around rumors of miracles related to the statue. In 1834 Pope Gregory XVI noticed the growth of the statue's legend and built a larger church at the location. Throughout the years grander churches were built and finally the Basilica of Our Lady of Brebières. A new large statue of Marian Art entitled The Golden Virgin was attached to the dome.

The sculpture was fastened to the 76 m bell tower. Starting in 1918, by canon law number 1180, no Catholic church can be honoured with the title of basilica unless by apostolic grant or from immemorial custom.

The Golden Virgin sculpture which stood on the dome of the Basilica was damaged During Battle of Albert 1914. In 1914 the French and Germans staged their troops in Albert, France and the German troops suspected that the French may use the bell tower as an observation post to direct military maneuvers, so beginning in October 2014 they shelled the dome.

By 7 January 1915 the dome was destroyed and by 21 January 1915 the base of The Golden Virgin was hit and the statue was knocked sideways past 90 degrees.

The Madonna and Child statue above the dome was damaged, separated, recast and placed upon the newly reconstructed basilica.

Somme 1916 Museum

Below the basilica is the museum of Somme battle of 1916. It housed in an underground passage, 250m long (dug by Clergy in the 13th century), linking the square to the garden-arboretum. It gives you a good idea of what life must have been like for soldiers in the trenches.

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Founded: 1927-1931
Category: Religious sites in France

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

peter menter (12 months ago)
The golden domed basilica dominates the skyline as sighted from our entry from the south from Rouen, it's an exotic so very anti-gothic against the architectural delights of Amiens and Rouen. It's wonderful but out of place eastern style arches Byzantine, its architect drowned in a myriad of styles crammed into a single masterpiece.
Johannes Jacob Hakkenberg (2 years ago)
Very elegant church
Kevin Hancock (5 years ago)
Great place to visit
Leslie Sykes (5 years ago)
What a beautiful church
christine antrichan (5 years ago)
Had a lovely tour up the belfry Tower (3pm every Saturday, from tourist centre). Beautiful building inside and out
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