Like most pre-twelve century Black Madonna site, this one is built on an ancient Celtic temple. It is difficult to say the word “temple” while talking about the Celts. Indeed, they did not have any. They did not worship statues or any representation of a god. They worshiped trees and stones. This is why Cesar ordered to cut all major forest in Gaul right after the conquest of 52 BCE.
It seems however the Druids worshiped at least one form of divinity in the shape of a woman: Black Madonnas. The statue destroyed in Chartres Sion Vaudemont are proof of an antique tradition of Goddess worship. Who was she? New Agers are mentioning the Name of Isis as seen previously. But Goddess worship pre-dates Egyptian culture by far. In a fascinating book, first published in the UK as the “Paradise Papers” then in the US as “When God was a Woman” Merlin Stone shows how in Europe, Goddess worshi. p was not a vain word. Everywhere statues have been found, but never actually processed in archaeological/historical research proving matriarchal societies.
Could the Celts have venerated a Queen mother of all the Gods? She is found in many places and in many forms. Celts saw feminine spirits in the watery places. Near by Piennes there is a river which is name Woevre, a misnomer for Wouivre, a Celtic spirit associated to the snake and to oak trees and of course a Goddess. There is a whole lot of research to be done on that subject.
The statue in Le Puy (which by the way means Mount in old local Celtic language and not a well like some people would translate using today’s terminology) is undated. The construction of the Church goes back to the IV century CE. A Celtic woman being sick and finding no help in local medicine remember a Druidic tale. In the days of Druids, when someone tried to heal, he would go to a certain “dolmen” on a mount near by and spend the night sleeping on it, to awake healed in the morning. The woman was carried to the mount, found a large flat rock of volcanic origine buried in the dirt, remembered that this may be the “dolmen” of the folk tale and lay on it. As soon as she sat on it she feel asleep. The legend she saw a beautiful woman in her dream. The later had a following of celestial spirits. The old woman asked in her dream:
“Who is the Queen so gracious and so beautiful who comes to me in my distressful situation?”
It’s the Queen of Heaven and our Queen answered an angel.She likes this rock and would like you to say so to the Bishop his servant. And o prove this is not just a vain dream, wake up woman, you are healed.” (just a reminder that Queen of Heaven is also another name for Isis).
In the morning she awoke and all traces of her disease was gone. She went to see Saint Evodius, also known as Saint Vosy (he was bishop of Le Puy from circa 365 to circa 385). A procession took off and went to the rock. Despite the fact it was July, the top of the mount was covered in snow. An elk jump out of the woods and drew a line in the snow, the markings of a church. The bishop marked the line with wood sticks and few days later ordered the construction of the cathedral.
Just like in many other Black Madonna sites we find the same artefacts: A horned male animal, water (here it is the snow) a fire (which in this case is the dream of fiery picture of a beautiful queen and her procession of angels and spirits). The only thing missing is the Rose, which was not known at the time. The only rose in existence was the mayflower which can not grow at this altitude in Auvergne.
This is certainly a place I would like to go in the future. Although today the modern statue has nothing in common with the original, I believe it is the place that is sacred, not the statue.