L: "Druid Altar" Drawing. R: Mother Goddess.
1st-3rd c Roman Gallo-Roman Sculpture
(active 1st c BCE - 4th c CE)
Dijon. Musée Archeologique.
Chartres Cathedral was built on the site of an ancient holy spring that had been sacred to the Great Goddess of pagan antiquity. The drawing on the left shows an ancient statue of the Great Goddess which had been discovered on the site in the 17th century. It was undoubtedly one of the many Gallo-Roman (Celtic) figurines of the Mother Goddess, like the one on the right, which denoted sacred sites during ancient times. The men who discovered the figurine wrote that it revealed that Mary and her son were worshipped by the ancient Druids on this site. She sits in a cave with a sacred well below. We know that caves and water sources were long regarded as places sacred to the ancient goddesses of fertility. The tradition survived, particularly with the Black Virgins whose shrines were especially sought after by women desiring children.
The ancient well still exists in the crypt, which is dedicated to Notre Dame-sous-terre, or Our Lady under-the-earth. A Black Virgin had been worshipped there until it was destroyed in the 18th century during the French Revolution.