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Catholic Dictionary




Shrine of Our Lady of Tongres, in Belgium, near the German border, a pilgrimage spot since the First Crusade. In February 1081 a blinded knight returning to his castle home heard angelic voices and the following morning found a statue of the Blessed Virgin in his garden. He tried to make a suitable oratory for "the lady" in his castle but after each attempt found her back in the original spot where she appeared. He then built a small outdoor chapel there to enclose the statue. In 1090 the King of France, at war with the Flemish, camped near Tongres. A voice told the blinded knight to go to the aid of the warring king. Imploring Mary's help before going into battle, he received his sight, and when the opposing Flemish army heard of the miracle they withdrew in fear before the battle hour. Much effort and money were spent in enrichment and enlargement of this shrine that was well known throughout Christian lands. People came especially when their land was harassed by plague. During the French Revolution the original statue was hidden to prevent its destruction and a duplicate image was kept in the chapel. In 1881 the original was crowned with special papal commendation.