Our association works for the protection and the preservation of the historical heritage of the city of Avignon. The cultural richness of this background strengthened our desire to act,
in a purely secular way.
Help us to correct them and do not hold that against us !
Furthermore, if you are lucky enough to find a new inhabitant in an empty niche, please let us know via our email:
Our site is alive and will be enriched with photos, anecdotes and new information.
Nathalie - La présidente
Why a « marian city « ?
As a result of the conflict between the king of France Philippe le Bel and the papcy, pope Clement V renounced to go to war-torn Rome because of the war between the Guelfes and the Gibelins, and he was crowned in Lyon in 1305, before to settle in Avignon.
Six popes were his successors until 1377, then two anti-papes until 1418. Pope Clement VII reigned from 1378 to 1394. He proclaimed Avignon a “marian city”, that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, patron of the city. Therefore every shop owner, craftsman, bourgeois, wanted his own statue in a niche or at the corner of their house. There were up to three hundred, often carved in “pierre de Pernes” looking as marble. On Saturday, they were lighted by lanterns.
A lot disappeared during the French Revolution, others were destroyed during renovation works. In 1992, the Chamber of Commerce hold a competition to create ten new Virgins for the empty niches.