Tomb of St. Lénard – Andouillé-Neuville, France - Atlas Obscura

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Tomb of St. Lénard

Andouillé-Neuville, France

This roadside shrine to an unofficial saint has welcomed the wishes and prayers of local believers for generations. 

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On the side of the road connecting Rennes to Mont St Michel, in the middle of a forest, the grave of a local unofficial saint welcomes the wishes and prayers of generations of believers.

The legend of St. Lénard dates back to the 19th century. A highwayman hated and feared by the locals, he once tasted an apple so bitter that he tossed it away, landing it on a nearby branch. Finding it later to be ripe and delicious, he decided that he too could change for the better. To prove his point, he immediately raced to the rescue of a man whose cart was broken… who got scared and killed him with a stick, before burying him on the side of the road.

Soon, rumors started to circulate among the locals that this martyr-thief was doing miracles from beyond the grave, and against the advice of the church, they built him a tomb in 1867. The instructions to be heard by the saint vary: you may want to try turning in circles around the shrine, getting up on a certain stone, or tying yourself with a chain. But everyone seems to agree that leaving small objects is a pretty safe bet.

The sanctuary consists of a small alley between the trees leading to the grave itself, surrounded by a small space for prayers. Each stump is covered in ex-voto, statues of the Virgin Mary, flowers and, to be honest, a lot of random objects with personal significance to the people who left them. People still come to this active place of worship today, between Christianity and the strong folk and pagan culture of Brittany. A lot of plaques bear witness to the very specific prayers of the locals: thanking the saint for a diploma, a new job, the return of a husband, or a healed wound.

Know Before You Go

The grave is located on the side of the D175, with a space to park your car. People still regurlarly come to pray or tend to the place, so please be respectful

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