Badge with Notre Dame du Chemin, Ladoix-Serrigny (France)
This hitherto little noticed badge of Botre Dame du Chemin indicates that badge werd produced in Ladoix-Serrigny.
The small silver badge was acquired by the British Museum at an early date. Together with 16 other silver badges it was purchased in Paris in 1855 from a dealer, named Jacob, through Sir Augustus Wollaston. The 17 badges have holes that allow them to be attached to a background. Because they were offered as a lot of 17, it is likely that they were taken from a book of hours where they were sewn to the parchment. For examples, see Hanneke van Asperen, Silver Saints: Prayers and Badges in Late Medieval Books, Turnhout: Brepols 2021). All 17 badges are made from thin sheets of silver which was at technique especially suited and used for badges that were added to books.
The chapel of Notre Dame du Chemin in Ladoix-Serrigny still exists today. It is located on a hill along the road from Baune to Dijon, part of a much-travelled route to Santiago de Compostela. For pilgrim, Notre Dame du Chemin - which translates as Our Lady of the Road - was a stop-over on the way to Santiago. On the site of the current chapel there already used to be a pagan cult site in pre-Christian times. Around the year 1000 the Virgin was believed to have appeared and more miracles started to happen. After that locals constructed a chapel in honour of the Virgin.
During excavations around the chapel in 1968-1969 archeologists discovered many skeletons of little children. The graves are indicative of the local practice of reviving still-born children. Many women visited the site hoping that through Mary’s intervention their children would come back to live long enough so they could be baptized. Only after their baptism would these children be buried in consecrated ground.
Notre Dame du Chemin became famous and important people honored her with visits and gifts. For example many duchesses of Burgundy went there on a pilgrimage before and after childbirth. Duke Philip the Good donated a thousand pounds in 1434 ‘to advance the construction of a church at Notre-Dame du Chemin lez Serigny'.
In 1793 the chapel was looted and pilgrimages came to a halt, but at the end of the19th century the chapel was restored. Also pilgrimages resumed.
London, British Museum, reg. 1855,0625.31 (Kunera no. 17621)