Located between Orléans and Chambord, in the valley of the kings, ever since the 15th century the Notre-Dame de Cléry basilica has dominated the Cléry-Saint-André township. Following a number of constructions and demolitions, the present-day flamboyantly Gothic-style basilica was erected during the 15th century under the reigns of Charles VII and Louis XI, who chose it as his final resting place.
In 1280, discovery of a statue of the Virgin was the starting point of what would later become the Notre-Dame basilica. In the small chapel where the statue has been installed, pilgrims gather together face to what is now termed “the Virgin of Cléry”, which is said to possess miraculous powers.
In 1302 Simon de Melun, Seigneur of the Cléry parish, founded a chapter of canons constituting the collegiate church of Cléry. Some years later, Philip IV (“The Fair”) envisioned construction of a larger church, but finally it was Philip VI (“The Fortunate”) who, in 1539, laid the foundation stone of the building, at a time when pilgrimage was mushrooming.
In the midst of the Hundred Years’ War, the English laid waste to the collegiate church; only the bell tower was spared. In 1444 Dunois, Seigneur de Beaugency, initiated reconstruction of the collegiate church, which reflected the determination of the kings of France to bestow honor on the statue of Virgin Mary.
Starting in 1459, Louis XI made one donation after another, visiting Cléry in 1465 following victory in the Battle of Montlhéry and proclaiming the edifice a “royal chapel” in 1467. Later on, he chose the collegial church as place of burial. Since 1894, it has borne the title of “basilica”.
Sporting a characteristically Latin-cross layout, the exterior is punctuated by a series of buttresses, mainstays and high-lying windows of which the even distribution is offset by the original bell tower and several chapels. Today, the basilica continues to welcome a plethora of pilgrims gathered together and beholding the renowned statue.
During your visit, discover the film « Basilica », which is streamed continuously in the ancient sacristy. It sheds light not only on the inaccessible areas in the building, but also on the sterling beauty of its architecture and the emotion it engenders.
- Motorway at 10 km
- Motorway at 10 km
- Railway station at 10 km