A & A spacer courtauld institute of art
quick search advanced search browse temp folder

Relief (appliqué); known as the 'statuette miraculeuse de Notre-Dame de Neunkirch' (Front)

Relief (appliqué);  known as the 'statuette miraculeuse de Notre-Dame de Neunkirch' (Front)
enlarge image zoom image




To purchase an image

Friesenheim, Church of Notre-Dame de Neunkirch



Height: 125mm

Standing Virgin and Child; Christ in long robe; Christ seated on left arm.

Hotz 1976: 14th century.


Flat and smooth. Back of the head carved in the round.
Three holes in the upper part and two holes in the lower part.

Object Condition
Missing: object or flower the Virgin was holding (replaced by a modern sceptre).
Worn. The base is later and carved in a different piece of ivory.

The statuette became the focus of a pilgrimage after its discovery. The stone under which the statuette was found is said to be the corner stone of the Shepherd's chapel (chapelle du Berger). In 1671, a collection of the miracles linked to the statuette was printed. In 1736 an altar was built specifically to accommodate the Virgin. In 1928, Kaufman, curate of Friesenheim, gave a monstrance to accommodate the statuette. As the reliquary was damaged during WWII, a larger monstrance (in a Gothic style) was commissioned in gilt silver from a Lyon goldsmith in 1947. Before the French Revolution, on feast days, a gold crown with diamonds was placed on the head of the Virgin and Christ wore a smaller one. These two crowns had been offered in 1695 by the baillifs of Benfeld and Dachstein, Reich von Platz and André Jaeger. The rest of the time, they wore gilt silver crowns. The Virgin wore a silver necklace and held a gilt silver sceptre.

Said to have been found in Neunkirch (Bas-Rhin) by a shepherd (the tale surrounding its discovery dates from at least the second half of the 18th century, as it was relayed by Philippe André Grandidier (b. 1752, d. 1787), historian and archivist of the bishop's see of Strasburg). Kept at the Convent of the Hospitallers in Sélestat from 1552. Stolen in 1632, during the Swedish invasion, by a Swedish officer who later left it at the Franciscan convent which returned it to the Collège de Mosheim. Hidden in Benfeld in 1674 during the invasion by the Brandeburger troops. Came back to Neunkirch in the late 17th century when it was placed in a reliquary. Stolen during the French Revolution: found again in Entzheim by a man who had been sent from Friesenheim by the priest Hurstel. Hidden in Meistratzheim during WWII.

Unpublished sources:
Archives départementales du Bas-Rhin, series D. Liste des ornements de la Vierge.
Archives du pèlerinage de Neunkirch: Codex historicus.
Région Alsace/Service de l'Inventaire et du Patrimoine, dossier 'Friesenheim/Neunkirch', 1979.
Published references:
T. W. Röhrich, Mitteilungen aus der Geschichte der Evangelischen Kirche des Elsasses (Paris, 1855), II, p. 195.
Ph. A. Grandidier, Oeuvres historiques inédites (Colmar, 1865-1868), VI, pp. 103-104.
J. Levy, Die Wallfahrten der Muttergottes im Elsass (Colmar, 1929), pp. 363-364.
P. Adam, Notre-Dame de Neunkirch (Sélestat, 1966), pp. 39, 46, 65, 172.
W. Hotz, Handbuch der Kunstdenkmäler im Elsass und in Lothringen (3rd ed., Munich-Berlin, 1976), p. 170.
Canton de Benfeld (Mulhouse, 1986) (= Inventaire général, Images du patrimoine, n° 19), p. 20.
M.-T. Fischer, Pèlerinages et piété populaire en Alsace (Strasbourg, 2003), pp. 70-72.
Palissy database: http://www.culture.gouv.fr/public/mistral/dapapal_fr [accessed September 2009]


© Ministère de la Culture (France), Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine (objets mobiliers), tous droits réservés.

All images on this website are made available exclusively for scholarly and educational purposes and may not be used commercially.

spacer spacer spacer spacer
Please remember to acknowledge any use of the site in publications and lectures as: 'Gothic Ivories Project at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, www.gothicivories.courtauld.ac.uk', followed by the date you accessed the site.