A Curious Little Chapel

The priest built it stone by stone over the course of thirty-three years.

Notre Dame de la Goutte is in the little village of Montardit, alongside the road that leads from Sainte Croix Volvestre to Saint Girons. La Goutte is a place name meaning a wet spot where water drips.

This unusual chapel was constructed between 1968 and 2001 by Father Jean-Marie Piquemal. He was born in 1924 to farmers in a small hamlet in Massat, where he learned how to work hard from an early age, planting potatoes, cutting hay and chopping firewood.

He was ordained as a priest in 1949 and sent to Arnave near Tarascon, where he discovered a little romanesque chapel on a hill. He restored the interior and decided to build a shelter for the “miracle” stone that was reputed to cure epilepsy. He used to haul cement and sand up the hill on his back until someone lent him a donkey to carry the load.

In 1951 he was assigned to Montardit and from 1964 onwards he looked after the spiritual welfare of 6 villages: Sainte Croix, Lasserre, Mérigon, Mauvezin, Montardit and Contrazy.

After completing the restoration of the church in the village of Sainte Croix, Father Piquemal took on another project: the chapel at Montardit. He wanted to build a place of worship that was more easily accessible to his parishioners than the church higher up in the village.

“First I started picking up small stones, then larger ones here and there. Then I found a mason who did the heavy building while I gathered stones and shaped them. We worked with the fervor of gold prospectors.
“When the chapel was completed I still had enough energy to built a path of the stations of the cross outside.
“I always had stones on my mind. While roaming the woods in the area I would come across large stones, which I wanted to carry away and show to the world. The idea that they could remain anonymous deep in the forest, covered with leaves and earth, seemed unjust to me.

Jean-Marie Piquemal had the soul of a builder. He was helped by a small group of collaborators, most of them volunteers.

In 1985 the chapel became an official pilgrimage site. The pilgrimage takes place on 15 September, a liturgical festival of Notre Dame des Sept Douleurs.

A sort of tranquility, a peaceful force, emanates from this spot that makes you want to return and commune with it even if you're not a practicing Catholic.

Access : From St Girons take the D627 in the direction of Sainte-Croix-Volvestre. At Montardit, the chapel on the left near the road, with a small car park just below it.

Many thanks to these photographers

About us

ARIEGE.COM was created in 2000 by a small team of multilingual Ariège residents to promote tourism in the department. We put visitors to the site in direct contact with advertisers with no intermediary and take no commissions. You will see no banner advertising on the site; we receive no financial support from any regional or departmental body. Our company operates on revenues from Ariège residents advertising on this site; we also create web sites for other Ariège companies or individuals. For information on prices, contact us.
SNC ARIEGE.COM - infos-ariege@ariege.com