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Our Lady of Arcachon

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A miraculous image venerated at Arcachon, France, and to all appearances the work of the thirteenth century. Carved from a block of alabaster about twenty inches in height, it represents Our Lady clad in Oriental drapery, holding the Divine Infant on her right arm. Blessed Thomas Illyricus of Osimo (b. about the middle of the fifteenth century) a Franciscan who had retired to the forest solitude of Arcachon, is said to have found this statue on the seashore, much battered by the waves. He immediately constructed a wooden chapel, replaced, a century later, by a spacious stone sanctuary, but this, in turn, was so menaced by the drifting sands of the dunes as to necessitate the erection of a new church (1723) on a neighbouring hill overlooking the Bay of Arcachon. The statue survived both revolutions and was granted the honour of a coronation by a brief of Pius IX, 15 July, 1870. Devotion to Our Lady of Arcachon has spread far and wide, and there are continual pilgrimages to her shrine. Up to 1842 the church was surrounded only by a few fishermen's huts, but with the erection of villas and the discovery of the salubrious climate people began to flock thither, and it is now the centre of a flourishing city.

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