The monk’s way will take you to the Colombanian sites which are a part of the history of this prestigious era and is the source of the origin of Christianization in Europe. It will also take you to legendary places which tell the popular traditions of a different time.
SAINT VALBERT’S HERMITAGE
Of all the illustrious men who passed through the abbey of Luxeuil, Saint Valbert is, without a doubt, the most influential and thus, has the best-preserved history. Valbert gave up everything. He was granted his wish to live the life of a hermit, a few kilometers from the abbey, in the middle of a forest in a cave sculpted in a block of sandstone near a spring. This is the humble abode that we can still see today.
The cave of Saint Valbert went through many changes throughout the centuries. History tells that Valbert celebrated mass on the left of the altar and ate on the small table on the right. The bench in the center served as a bed. The dove on the ceiling was sculpted in the 19th century.
In the 18th century, the site of the grotto was transformed. Between 1757 and 1760, new buildings were constructed, such as a central building (which has since disappeared). A chapel with its original altar and gardens surrounded by tall walls still exist today. The whole site is surrounded by a fence. The buildings were conserved and maintained by the monks of Luxeuil until the Revolution. In 1843, the archbishop of Besançon, Cardinal Mathew, bought the site in order to make it a place of prayer and meditation.
THE SHEEP’S STONE
Take the time and try to decrypt the inscriptions on this small stone.
THE SACTIFICAL STONE
The basins in the stone where the subject of many legends in the valley. Today, the explanation is more practical: the basins are the consequence of the extraction of the sandstone mills
THE SAINT-ROCH CHAPEL
Built in 1636 at the same place where the victims of the Black Plague were buried, the chapel was rebuilt in 1853 after the inhabitants of the area were spared from a cholera outbreak.
SAINT COLOMBAN’S GROTTO
One day, while leaving Annegray, Colomban discovered an enormous boulder high on a hill,which had a platform from which one could see Annegray. He found there a grotto occupied by a bear. Nicely, he asked the wild beast to leave this cave. The bear left and would never return. Colomban visited this grotto many times to meditate and to pray in solitude before the celebrations of the Lord. This grotto still exists, in the north west of the town of Sainte Marie en Chanois, some 8 kilometers from Annegray and 12 kilometers from Luxeuil. However, only a small part of the cave still exists, where Colomban made a spring flow from the ground. The roof of the grotto caved in many years ago.
Next to the grotto is a small New Roman chapel which was reconstructed in 1872 by 4 of the parishcommunities. These include Sainte Marie, Les Fessey, La Bruyère and the Proiselière. The chapel replaces an edifice from the 16th century which was in bad condition and so none of the original stones could be saved. This site is a place of pilgrimage and promenades for tourists visiting the valley.
Up until the Revolution, the Benedictines of Luxeuil maintained this place of pilgrimage where the sick came to drink water at the miraculous spring and to lay on the stone called “the bed of Saint Colomban” on which the chapel was then constructed. Still today it’s a place which is frequented by the inhabitants of the region. They come to pray to Saint Colomban and fill their bottles with the water from the spring.
THE ANNEGRAY MONASTERY
The hamlet of Annegray, situated in the community of the Voivre, is traditionally identified as the monastery site of Anagrates. The discovery of the foundations of the roman church, Saint John the Baptist, and the Merovingian sarcophagi by the doctor Cugnier in 1958 help with this identification. Annegray is situated in the higher valley of the Breuchin in the foothills of the southern Vosges mountains. The monastery was also close to the town of Faucogney, a passage of the route to the hill of the Mont du Fourche and the Moselle valley. This site is traditionally considered as the first foundation on French soil of the grand Irish monk at the end of the 6th century. It was built on the ruins of ancient roman castrum.