The distinguished Benedictine Abbey at Déols (a suburb of Chateauroux) was founded in the year 917 by Ebbes the Noble. Sometimes called the Breast of St. Peter because of its influence and service to the Church, the Abbey’s privileges have been confirmed by 30 popes. It was in front of this venerable abbey that the spectacular miracle of Déols took place.
A column situated in a place of honor supported a statue of the Blessed Virgin holding the Child Jesus. Here the villagers were accustomed to pause for a moment of prayer. Located in front of the column and the abbey was an area where the people frequently gathered in friendly exchange. Also gathering there during the English occupation were rough English soldiers who delighted in mocking the poor and especially the people who prayed before the blessed statue.
The miraculous event took place on May 31, 1187, when the English soldiers were engaged in a game of dice. The soldier who lost the game became enraged. To vent his anger, he picked up a large stone and flung it at the statue, breaking off the hand of the Holy Child. According to the historian Philippe Auguste, a contemporary of the event, “A stream of blood poured from the arm of the broken image and made a pool on the earth below. The fellow who flung the stone was seized with madness, and dropped down dead on the spot. John Lackland, and Adhemar, Viscount of Limoges, carefully collected the blood and deposited it in a rich chapel erected in England and dedicated to the Virgin.” According to the historian, Rigord, countless cures were effected by the application of this blood. News of the miracle spread everywhere.
The English soldiers who were in Déols, but who were not present at the time of the miracle, took particular interest in the report since one of their own had instigated the phenomenon and died as a result. To satisfy their curiosity that the event had taken place as reported, a company of soldiers went to the spot the next day. Among them was the brother of the English king, who recovered the hand of the Infant Jesus. After picking it up, he wrapped it in his cloak, when suddenly bright red blood began to flow from the stone hand—to the terror of all the spectators. In addition to these two blood sheddings, other prodigies are said to have taken place. These were so spectacular that they caused Philippi Auguste, King of France, and Richard the Lion Hearted, King of England, to become reconciled for a time.
After the miracle, the statue was removed to a chapel in the abbey church. Dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles, the chapel became the site of numerous pilgrimages in which, through the years, several popes, a number of future Saints and many noblemen took part. During the French Revolution, the abbey was pillaged and plundered. The statue of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was viciously broken and seriously damaged. The disfigured statue was providentially retrieved by an elderly woman, who secretly kept it until peace was restored. After the miraculous statue was returned to the possession of the Church, it was repaired and clothed in elegant garments.
A confraternity that was established in 1187 in memory of the blood shedding flourished until the Revolution but was reorganized in 1830. Members of this confraternity, in addition to many pilgrims, commemorate the miracle of Notre-Dame de Déols every year on May 31, the anniversary of the miracle. During an elaborate ceremony in the year 1899, the archbishop of Bourges demonstrated the Church’s affection for the statue by bestowing precious crowns on the heads of both Mother and Child. The abbey that figured in the miracle is still in ruins. The statue of Mother and Child is now found in one of the chapels of St. Etienne’s Church, where the Child Jesus remains without His hand in sad remembrance of the disrespectful action that took place over 800 years ago.
~Source:”Miraculous Images of Our Lord”