Our Lady of Monton – Monumental statue of the Virgin Mary

Our Lady of Monton overlooks Monton, a small village in the outskirts of Clermont-Ferrand.

Our Lady of Monton - One of the tallest statues in France
One of the tallest statues in France

Perched atop the Butte de Monton, it boasts spectacular views of the Monts d’Auvergne and the Auvergne capital.

The 21m tall statue is the fourth tallest in France, and can be seen from afar.

Our Lady of Monton was built in response to a movement of piety that took shape several decades after the French Revolution.

Many people indeed felt the need to erect a monument as an expiation for the atrocities that were committed during this tragic period of the history of France.

Two Capuchin priests, Théodore and Flavien, therefore preached a mission following the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1864 by Pope Pius IX.

The inhabitants of Monton launched a subscription in order to fund the construction the statue.

Our Lady of Monton is therefore the property of the village.

Aristide Belloc sculpted his statue from the white stone from Beaucaire.

He represented the crowned Virgin and Child trampling a snake, the symbol of evil.

The statue was inaugurated on August 22, 1869 and an annual pilgrimage has since taken place on the last weekend of August.

Our Lady of Monton and the gun

You’re probably wondering why there is a gun at the foot of the statue!

This German howitzer,  produced in 1900 in Spandau in the outskirts of Berlin, is one of many war trophies seized during WWI and shared among the French cities after war.

Our Lady of Monton and the German gun
Our Lady of Monton and the German gun

The gun remained in place until 1940.

A priest refugee from Northern France, indeed, warned the inhabitants of Monton about potential retaliation if the Germans were to discover it and take offense of its presence.

The villagers therefore removed the wheels and buried the gun.

However, the hole proved too shallow as the gun’s axle was left exposed.

Fortunately, it didn’t catch any German’s attention during the war.

The gun was unearthed in 1954 and replaced at the foot of Our Lady of Monton.

However, the construction of its current base (in 1992) proved a bit tricky, as the gun needed to be lifted by a crane to allow for the work.

This was also a perfect opportunity to check its weight, a mere 4.200 kg!

Department of Puy-de-Dôme
Coordinates: Lat 45.677714 – Long 3.169051

Related article: Have you yet read about the amazing troglodyte dwellings in Monton?

Credits: photos and source article by Jean Piludu – Translated and edited by and for TravelFranceOnline – Photo Wikimedia Commons: header

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