Dordogne heritage, art and history of Périgord:

A place of an ancient pagan worship linked to water – a symbol of purification - the spring of Capelou was christianized and dedicated to the Virgin very early in the Middle Ages. Tradition has it that a shepherd, intrigued by the behavior of his cow, stumbled upon a statue of the Virgin in a bush near the spring and thereafter the Virgin Mary was associated with the spring and its surroundings.

There is evidence of the presence of a chapel there as early as 1153.

As elsewhere in Périgord, the Hundred Years War, then the wars of Religion, and finally the Revolution devastated this religious site.

The original wooden Madonna was burned by revolutionary iconoclasts. It has been replaced by a 14th century Pieta from the nearby Fongauffier Abbey.

The current chapel, built in 1872, on an architectural model often reproduced at the time, is the work of Jean-Jacques Valleton, disciple of Abadie (architect of the Sacred Heart of Paris and St. Front Cathedral of Périgueux).

The second half of the nineteenth century gave rise to resurgence in Catholicism in France which led to the renewal of the Capelou pilgrimage and the need to build a new building for the reception of many pilgrims. The site became an important point on the Way of St James as well as an important pilgrimage site in itself.

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