Last modified: 2018-11-18 by ivan sache
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Flag and burgee of RYC - Images by Ivan Sache, 31 October 2018
The Rocamadour Yacht Club (RYC; website) was established in 2011 with the following aims: "promotion and international outreach of the maritime sanctuary of Rocamadour, establishment of a documentation on the modern history connected with the sanctuary; set up of fraternal, rooted in solidarity and ecumenical events of maritime character".
The village of Rocamadour (628 inhabitants in 2015; 4,942 ha), located 250 km east of Bordeaux and 170 km north of Toulouse, is one of the most visited places in France. Every year, more than one million visitors, either tourists show up in the village, attracted by the medieval village built in stages up the side of a cliff (120 m) overlooking river Aizou, or pilgrims venerating the Black Virgin of Rocamadour.
In the Sigebert's Chronicle, redacted around 1180, Robert de Thorigny, Abbot of Mont-Saint-Michel, writes:
King Henry [Plantagenet] went to Roc-Amadour for praying. The place is located in Quercy, in a mountainous and gruesome desert region.
They say that Blessed Amadour was the servant of Blessed Virgin Mary and that he was sometimes honored to carry and feed the Lord. After the Assumption to the celestial realms of the Very Saint Mother, lord Amadour, upon Her advice, went to Gaul and lived for a long time in loneliness in the aforementioned place. When he died, he was interred at the entrance of the oratory dedicated to the Blessed Mary. The place remained unnoticed for long: they commonly said that the remains of Blessed Amadour rested there, but nobody knew their location.
On the Year of the Incarnation 1166, a native about to pass away asked, probably inspired by God, to be interred at the oratory's entrance. When digging the soil, Amadour's body, kept stainless, was found: it was placed in the church, close to the altar, where it is shown to the pilgrims. Here Blessed Mary accomplished innumerable and unprecedented miracles.
Nothing is known on Amadour, not even any evidence of his existence. It
is not impossible that the place, already named for a local lord,
Amadour, and the site of a rather obscure Marian pilgrimage, gained
popularity by conveniently identifying the body found in the church with
an hermit; as a servant of the Virgin, he could have been considered as
the "relic" the sanctuary hitherto lacked. From 1152 to 1182, Rocamadour
belonged to Géraud d'Escorailles, Abbot of Tulle, who supervised a
massive revamping and increase of the sanctuary; a big religious city
was achieved around 1200. The publication in 1172 of the "Book of Our
Lady of Rocamadour's Miracles" also supports the hypothesis.
The 13th century was Rocamadour's Gilded Age, but nearly nothing was added to Amadour's legend; the Marian cult probably overshadowed the saint, while the history of the discovery of his relics remained vivid. In the 14th century, Bernard Gui presented a new version of Amadour's life in "Flos Cronicorum" and the "Treaty of the Saints of Limousin". Amadour is presented as "a man of God" who evangelized Limousin with St. Martial, the apostle of Aquitaine and first bishop of Limoges. Moreover, he is presented as the husband of St. Veronica, a familiar of the Blessed Virgin locally believed to have been Martial's assistant. Gui's account was most probably the source of the "St. Amadour's Acts", written by an unknown author at an unknown date, which eventually fixed the "official" details of Amadour's life.
In the 15th century, Amadour was identified with Zacchaeus, the publican evoked in Luke's Gospel. St. Martial was believed to have been christened with Joseph and Zacchaeus, who would have subsequently taken the name of Amadour (Amator Rupis). in the 19th century, the church popularized Zacchaeus rather than Amadour, probably to increase the prestige of the pilgrimage.
[Bénédicte Bulles-Gasmand. 1995. Saint Amadour : formation et évolution de sa légende (XIIe-XXe siècle). Annales du Midi : revue archéologique, historique et philologique de la France méridionale, 107:212, 437-455]
Our Lady of Rocamadour is the patron saint of seamen. Several of them
stated that stormy weather calmed down after they had invoked the Black
Virgin. The reason why these people invoked a Virgin venerated on land,
far away from the coast, rather than their local saints, is still a
matter of conjecture.
The tradition is quite old, as evidenced by the Our Lady of Rocamadour chapel erected, according to some source, in 1183 in Camaret, a village of Brittany. The abbot of the neighboring abbey of Daoulas is said to have built the chapel after his own pilgrimage to Rocamadour, for the sake of the Nordic pilgrims heading back home.
The sanctuary and parish of Notre-Dame de Roc-Amadour in Quebec recalls that the explorer Jacques Cartier, during his second expedition (1535-1536), invoked the Black Virgin to heal his crew from scurvy.
Our Lady of Rocamadour was proclaimed the official patron of the Vendée Globe 2017 transoceanic race. A replica of the statue was transported to Les Sables-d'Olonne, the start of the race, and all competitors were offered a "sportelle", the pilgrim's insignia.
A small bell, made of wrought iron and hanging in the chapel, is said to ring, without any rope, every time a seaman invokes the Virgin.
The flag of RYC (photo) is horizontally divided celestial blue-orange by a thin horizontal white stripe. The silhouette of the Black Virgin of
Rocamadour is placed at hoist. A yellow star is placed in upper fly, and
the white letters "RYC" at lower fly.
The burgee of RYC (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) is the triangular version of the flag, seemingly used in two, more or less elongated, versions.
Ivan Sache, 31 October 2018