Driving along a back road toward Thônes one day, I discovered a roadside statue of Mary, protected by some lions and surrounded by candles, flowers (both real and plastic) rosary beads, statuettes and water features. Here’s a close-up of one of the two protective lions. It features a scary eye and an even scarier missing eye, some cob webs, and a rather big snarl.
Meanwhile, below is a photo showing just how close to the road this monument is (you can see a close-up of Mary and the trinkets that surround her in the top right corner, or click on the image to zoom in further). Yes, that’s a grotto on the left and Italian-style lions at the man-made gate right by the roadside.
The soft trickle of the water feature in front of Mary is drowned out every time a car zooms by on the country road, but it carries on regardless. Wax from melted candles forms stalactites near the statue of Mary alongside plaques draped with rosary beads. There is no graffiti and no signs of security against theft or vandalism. The marks on the grass by the roadside opposite suggest that many stop at the monument, but I’m unsure whether they’re here for religious reasons or, like me, out of curiosity. So many religious monuments exist by road sides here in France, but they’re normally much smaller and more secure from vandals.
Why is it here, right next to a road? When was it created? Who commissioned it? Who goes there? So many questions, and no answers at all. The only clue: some Latin inscribed below one of the lions with a passage from the bible, but I’ve no idea what it means, nor which part of the bible it’s from. I waited for a local to appear, but nobody arrived in the half an hour that I explored. It remains a mystery.