in the footsteps of thomas illyricus

050/>722029image005.jpgtomas094Thomas Illyricus (1452 to 1528) ‘the hermit’ was a franciscan monk who lived for several years as a solitary near La Teste de Buch. One morning in 1519, after a storm Thomas found a statue of a woman on the shore. Presumably the figurehead of a boat wrecked nearby in the storm. This was taken as a miraculous appearance of the Virgin. Thomas constructed a rough wooden chapel for the statue. This attracted many pilgrims, but was soon washed away. A more substantial brick and stone chapel was built to replace it in 1564. This too disappeared into the shifting sand in 1721. The Virgin remains, having been moved by Imperial decree to the church of Notre-Dame d’Arcachon built in 1860.
Thomas was a controversial figure at the time, frequently criticising the church for venality. Though the geography has changed since his time, the area where Thomas lived as a hermit is still one of the few parts of the shoreline of the Bassin d’Archon not to have been developed. It remains much as it was, a haven of peace for animals and birds.

12 thoughts on “in the footsteps of thomas illyricus”

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