A sanctuary with an exceptional collection of ex-votos near Menton

Inaugurated in the 17th century, the sanctuary of Notre-Dame-de-Laghet at La Trinité near Menton has an exceptional collection of over 4,000 ex-votos distributed between the cloister, the church and, for the most precious among them, the museum. Unfortunately, the sanctuary was pillaged during the Revolution and since the the oldest ex-votos are late 18th century.

Among the most interesting pieces of the museum is the ex-voto relating Constantin Spinelli’s accident. When he was in a coma after falling from a train, the Virgin appeared to him and said: “The hour has not yet come for you to die, Spinelli, convert!” A militant communist, he and his entire family converted to Christianity  but he didn’t reveal his vision of Mary until he was on his deathbed.

The story of the sanctuary of Notre-Dame-de-Laghet goes back to the 17th century when Don Jacques Fighiera, a priest from the nearby village of Èze, paid for the restoration of the dilapidated chapel of the hamlet of Laghet. In 1652, three miracles brought fame to the modest place of worship: Hyacinte Casanova, a leprosy sufferer who doctors had given up as lost, was suddenly cured after coming to Laghet; the son of Anne Giongona, captured by barbarian pirates was freed at the very moment when his mother, after praying in the chapel on nine consecutive days, thought she saw him; finally, Marie Aicard, an epileptic possessed by a demon, found peace and serenity after an exorcism carried out by Dom Fighiera. The priest therefore placed in the Laghet chapel a statue of the Virgin Mary that he had carved from a tree on his land, which became the object of pilgrim worship.

Over time, the reputation of Laghet attracted more and more supplicants hoping for miracles, which continued to increase, until the Bishop of Nice decided to build a sanctuary to welcome the faithful. It was consecrated on 21 November 1656.

A unique and delightful sanctuary for you to seek out next time you are in and around Monaco.



(Adapted from Secret French Riviera by Jean-Pierre Cassely, published by JonGlez)

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