Notre-Dame de l'Épine

L'Épine, France

The Basilica of Our Lady of l'Épine, also known as Notre-Dame de l'Épine, is a Roman Catholic basilica in the small village of L'Épine, near Châlons-en-Champagne and Verdun. It is a major masterpiece in the Flamboyant Gothic style.

Started around 1405-1406, construction lasted until 1527. Elevated to a basilica from 1914, Notre-Dame-de-l'Épine takes its name from the devotion given to a statue of the Virgin holding the Child Jesus. According to a legend from the 17th century that has since evolved, the statue was found by shepherds in the Middle Ages in a burning thorn bush. The basilica has the dimensions of a cathedral and is in the Gothic architectural tradition. The façade has three portals and is crowned with two spires. The right spire is 55 metres high. The left spire was leveled in 1798 to allow the installation of a Claude Chappe telegraph. It was rebuilt in 1868.

The basilica was classified a historic monument in 1840. In 1998 it was registered on the World Heritage List by UNESCO under the title of 'roads to St Jacques de Compostela in France'. Notre-Dame de l'Épine has always struck travelers and inspired writers, especially Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Paul Claudel and Paul Fort.

The basilica has remarkable gargoyles. Inside is a rood screen of the late 15th century, whose right arcade houses the statue of the Virgin for which this basilica is famous.

Statues include the Venerated Virgin (about 1300), seated virgin (15th century) and St. Jacques in wood (17th century). The altars date from 1542, and the triumph crucifix from the 16th century. The tribune and organ case are 16th century. The tribune is decorated with eight apostles and seven pagan gods (inscriptions added in 1825 by Father Brisson). The choir organ is from Merklin. Stained glass is from the 19th and 20th centuries, mainly manufactured by the Champigneulle house.


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Founded: 1405-1527
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Valois Dynasty and Hundred Year's War (France)

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User Reviews

Anton Ivanov (14 months ago)
The Basilica of Our Lady is an incredible masterpiece in the Gothic architectural style, whispering to us about the greatness and power of our ancestors of the past and their unwavering faith in divine creation. The Biblical Legend of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus in her arms is still alive today and continues to show us the respect and adoration for timeless and true values ​​in the time of infinity.
Jernej Slejko (4 years ago)
Stunning looking basilica in 'one-horse' village. Stopped for a lunch in Aux Armes de Champagne across the street. Michelin people like to come here. Just beware of short food serving times ?
Marek Němeček (5 years ago)
This basilique looks so unusually in such a small town like L'Épine! Love it here :-)
Dennis F (5 years ago)
Very nice gothic cathedral. No crowds whatsoever. If you are in the general area you should take a detour to see it.
Patty Peter (6 years ago)
Absolutely stunning! This is no exaggeration. Relatively unknown and completely unexpected for the average traveler who might simply be passing through. It seems like it might belong in a much bigger and well known City.
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