Permanent Tourist

The personal website of Mark Howells-Mead

The Grotto of Saint Columba

Deep in the Jura mountains is a large cave; easily accessible, as it sits alongside the main road which winds its way through the bottom of the Pichoux Gorge. In the cave is a shrine to the Christian St. Columba of Spain, who fled persecution and allegedly made her way to Austria via France and the Jura region a couple of hundred years after the birth of Christ. Seeing the many messages of thanks to the Saint in Spanish reminds visitors of the origin of the saint who gave her name to the cave, and there are messages of thanks by many pilgrims from both Spain and Portugal, who visit the cave to ask for spiritual help in difficult circumstances.

Auguste Quiquerez, (referenced elsewhere online and presumably a historian) attributes the spirituality of the cave to events prior to the 13th century references in nearby Undervillier; he believed that the cave was used by celtic druids ceremonially, possibly in some way connected to the common legend of a “spring of life”, before their beliefs were gradually replaced by those of Christians.

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