The legend of Notre Dame de l’épine
The origin of the construction of the basilica has its roots in a legend, according to which a pilgrim returning from Jerusalem in the 7th century witnessed a miracle.
On his way back from the Holy Land, carrying what had been sold to him as milk from the Virgin herself, he fell asleep at the foot of a hawthorn bush after hanging up the box containing the precious relic.
The tree miraculously grew in the night and in the morning the pilgrim couldn’t reach his box. The holy man Hadouin, passing through the wood, prayed and the hawthorn bowed down. The bishop built a church in honour of the event.
Thus was founded Notre-Dame-de-l’Épine, or “Aubépine,” which became a centre of pilgrimage and a Benedictine abbey.