Our Lady the Found is said to be the “world’s smallest Virgin.” On July 8, 1496, two little girls were playing on the banks of the Allier, striking white quartz pebbles to make sparks. Suddenly, just as Marguerite Romeuf, 6, hit her rock against another, a half-inch relief fell from it, painted in azure and gold, depicting in uncanny detail a woman with a child in her left arm, a star on her breast, and five fleurs-de-lis on her robe.
The children’s shouts attracted a small crowd, among them a soldier who presented the find to his captain, who, in turn, took it to the Benedictine priory of Sainte-Croix (Holy Cross), near the place of finding, where it was placed on a side altar of the church.
Eighteen days later, the miracles began. Two paralytics recovered the use of their limbs. Two babies born dead came to life long enough to receive baptism. A man blind four months regained sight en route to Sainte-Croix. The monastery prior and the bishop of Saint-Flour conducted a favorable inquiry and commissioned a gilt silver reliquary to hold the tiny icon.
In 1889, when the town widened its bridge, the wooden statue of Our Lady of the Bridge moved to the Church of Sainte-Croix to contain the the relief of Notre-Dame-Trouvée in its precious setting. On July 6, 1913, by order of Pope Pius X, the Bishop of Le Puy crowned this reliquary statue, which is still carried in procession on the first Sunday of July, alongside Our Lady the Found on a velvet cushion. Our Lady of the Bridge, Notre-Dame-du-Pont, now stands over
the altar in the chapel of Notre Dame Trouvée in Holy Cross Church, behind a grille, while the gilt reliquary holding Our Lady the Found resides in the church Treasury.