In 1914, as World War I engulfed the world, the Basilica and The Golden Virgin found themselves in the midst of a conflict that would leave a lasting mark on history. During the early days of the war, German forces suspected the basilica’s bell tower housed a French observation post. They had shelled the dome, slightly dislodging the statue.
However, on January 15, 1915, when the Battle of the Somme was raging, the sculpture was struck by artillery fire. It was in fact left leaning precariously just below the horizontal. Such a sight was too heavenly connected for passing soldiers to ignore, and the Legend of the Leaning Virgin and this important statue was born.
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