The sanctuary continues to attract visitors from Alès and its surrounding area as well as many tourists. From time to time it is a meeting place for groups of children or adults but it is especially on the 15th of August (Feast of the Assumption) that many pilgrims gather to pray to Our Lady. The sanctuary also welcomes a good number of regular worshippers on the 8th December for the anniversary of its consecration to the Virgin Mary.
Since 2004, following the sale of some property and with the help of many very competent volunteers, the Association has been able to carry out further restoration work on the site. Since June 2005, comfortable accommodation has been made available for a duty warden, which has made it easier to welcome visitors. A meeting and exhibition room has been refurbished including cooking and toilet facilities.
The chapel bell was repaired and reinstalled on the 2nd July 2005. It now strikes the hours thanks to work undertaken with cooperation from the town council and the Entreprise Poitevin, a local company which specializes in the electrification of bells and in lightening conductors.
The year 2008 can be considered as an historic one as a superb pre-Roman mosaic was discovered then. It is the largest of its kind to be uncovered in Gaul; 24 square metres of concentrated art and history. The discovery was made by an archaeological research group, led by Mrs. Olmer of the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research), on land below the sanctuary which belongs to the Association. The Association has donated the mosaic to the town of Alès, it has been restored by experts in Arles and will be returned to Alès during 2011.
The statue of the Virgin and its base still needed a bit of a “facelift”, this work was carried out at the end of 2009. The bell tower was threatening to tumble down and was completely restored at the start of 2010 thanks to the town council; after all the Ermitage is part of the local heritage of Alès, isn’t it?
There is always work to be done because of decay and damage caused by the passing of time and weather conditions. The Association still relies on the generosity of all those who enjoy coming to this exceptional site to admire the view of Alès and the Cévennes, and of those who wish to be close to Our Lady of the Mines as she continues to watch over the region.
NOTRE DAME DES MINES