In southern France, near Toulouse, is one of Christendom's earliest shrines. Legend says that the shrine began as a hermitage in a cave near the river Alzou and was founded in the first century by a man names Zaccheus of Jericho. It is believed that Zaccheus, who died in 70 A.D., is the Zaccheus of the Bible, and husband of St. Veronica. His Christian name is given as Amador. After the death of Amador, his hermitage grew into a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages and later became one of the most celebrated shrines in France. First, a miracle-working little statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was brought to the shrine and thousands of pilgrims who heard about the statue made the journey to Rocamadour to present their petitions to the Blessed Mother. The sanctuary also became well known for the long stairs, 216 steps, that led up from the valley below. It is said that the pilgrims would climb these stairs on their knees. Popes and kings began granting special privileges to those who visited the sanctuary. Some of the more famous people who traveled there were Charlemagne, St. Bernard, St. Dominic, King St. Louis IX and King Louis XI. The Shrine is built against the side of a cliff and offers a breathtaking view of the valley below. The religious buildings in Rocamadour include the Chapelle Notre Dame which is home to the Black Madonna, the Basilica of Saint-Sauveur, the Saint-Michel chapel, and the Palace of the Bishops.
Accommodations: There are a variety of accommodation options in and near Rocamadour, from budget hotels to B&Bs to restored manor homes.
Transportation: Rocamadour is approximately a 2 hour drive north of Toulouse (100 miles). Train: From Paris Austerlitz station, trains depart regularly in the direction of Toulouse. At Brive-la-Gaillarde, change trains for Rocamadour.