Seventeenth-century historians and antiquarians lavished attention on nearly every place in the French kingdom. So it is hardly surprising that pilgrim shrines numbered among the many cities, provinces and dioceses whose pasts attracted such passionate interest and extensive research. Dozens of books about shrines were published over the course of the seventeenth century. Most shrines were dedicated to the Virgin Mary and reported apparitions, miracles and marvels. Authors of shrine books regaled readers with a shrine’s truths as well as delights, thereby establishing the place’s identity and spreading its renown among potential pilgrims and patrons.1

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Although the shrine books do not comfortably fit within the category of history, they depend on contemporary practices of history-writing. They share much with sacred or ecclesiastical histories in the mode of Cesare Baronio’s Annales Ecclesiastici (1588–1607).2 Like sacred history, authors of shrine books documented historical precedent...

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