Monaco Neighbours – Notre Dame de Laghet, French Riviera
If you are a long-term resident of the French Riviera, you have surely heard of a miraculous sanctuary in the neighborhood of La Turbie.
I first learned about this place from a friend who was trying for a long time to have a baby and was advised to go to Laghet. And she did get pregnant in the end. Whether a miracle or a coincidence, I really don’t know. Then I have recently heard of somebody being healed from a serious illness after a visit to Notre Dame de Laghet. After that I could no longer resist the temptation and we made a family visit to this holy place located only a 15-minute drive from Monaco.
The place for Laghet’s construction is quite unusual in itself. A church would often stand on a hilltop overlooking a town or village. This one is built in a valley as if hiding from prying eyes. You wouldn’t even see it if you were not looking for it. And there is an absolute silence all around it.
The medieval church of Notre Dame de Laghet is indeed hiding in the Laghet valley between Nice and Monaco, in the commune of La Trinité. Erected in the XV century in an almost deserted area, inhabited by just 12 families of peasants and farmers, for many centuries it has been a haven for those who have lost hope.
The incredible story of the church dates back to 1625 when miracles began to occur in response to the prayers of the congregation. Locals were inexplicably cured from serious illnesses, and those kept in captivity were returned home. It was thus decided that the Virgin Mary was showing mercy to those in need. The news quickly spread to the neighboring countries, with many visitors willing to pay tribute to this magical place.
That same year the priest of Laghet, Jacques Fighiera, carried out the reconstruction of the church. At his request, a Parisian sculptor Pierre Moise made a statue of the Virgin Mary out of the trunk of a rowan tree. The painting of the statue was commissioned by an artist from Nice, Jean Rocca. The statue has been a part of the main altar of Notre Dame de Laghet since 24 June, 1625.
In the meantime, the miraculous news echoed from Nice to Monaco. Pilgrims came in droves from the neighboring towns, Ventimiglia and San Remo, to witness the miracles produced in the church of Laghet.
Over three years, a new monastery was built on its premises and it opened officially to pilgrims on 21 November, 1656. Those soliciting the Virgin Mary’s help and who were miraculously healed gave the church of Laghet more than 4,000 paintings and appreciation plaques. 1792 proved to be a turning point for the church. The revolutionary French army invaded the Var region, passing through Nice, a favorite place for the nobility. The statue of the Virgin Mary was hidden in La Turbie, while the monastery was totally devastated and its commemorative paintings burnt. Only five years later, the temple reopened its doors to the pilgrims.
In the XIX century the ruler of Sardinia and Piemont, King Charles III and his wife, visited the church of Laghet. The royal couple gave the custodians of the monastery some silver oil lamps that are still part of its inventory. 1900 was marked by a solemn coronation ceremony of the Notre Dame de Laghet Statue carried out by the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Victor Lecot.
These days, the walls of the church are decorated with paintings bearing witness to the kindness and benevolence of the Virgin Mary to its congregation, rather than icons. These touching, childlike images were painted by people from the depth of their grieving hearts. They are not professional and are still more impressive due to that. Each hand-made icon is a unique story and a plea for help, granted with miraculous healing. I absolutely recommend you visit this place and bring your children. The icons of Laghet will share so many wonderful stories with your little ones and help you start a simple conversation about the eternal values of family, love, faith and hope.
Address: Route de Laghet, 06340 La Trinité
A visit to Notre Dame de Laghet is not to be missed, especially during the holiday season!