During the summer, if you take the road connecting the Mas d'Azil to St Girons, you will be surprised to discover, a short distance from the famous cave, a religious building surprising by its importance and its decor: it is about the church of Raynaude and its Stations of the Cross.
In the second half of the XNUMXth century, theAbbot Rousse, vicar at Mas d'Azil, decided to build a new place of worship, the old church being in poor condition.
The abbot became a beggar pilgrim in order to collect alms. So the first stone was laid on 2th October and the first mass was celebrated three years later.
Shortly after Father Rousse built the presbytery and a Christian school.
In order to build the 14 chapels Overlooking the church, the abbot used all of his alms and appealed on numerous occasions to the generosity of the faithful. But 30 years later the construction was still not finished.
Legend has it that the American Rockefeller, passing through the region, was surprised by this unfinished work and gave the priest a check to complete the work.
The church was consecrated in 1895 by Monsignor Rougerie, bishop of Pamiers.
But why 14 chapels?
In the Catholic tradition, the Stations of the Cross should commemorate 14 moments of the Passion of Christ.
This procession is carried out by stopping 14 times in front of a symbol (table, crucifix, ...) placed in the church or around an adjoining place generally reproducing the ascent to Calvary.
The chapels of Raynaude therefore mark the various "stations" of the ceremony since they originally housed many ornate paintings which were damaged or stolen over time.
Right now : for safety reasons, by municipal decree, access to the Stations of the Cross must be bypassing the church on the left and imperatively taking the stone stairs.