The Wedding Cross (la Croix des mariages)
The Wedding Cross stands along the Sapenay road, next to a trail climbing up the Cessens Mountain. It was built at the beginning of the 13th century.
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The first Abbaye de Hautecombe (Hautecombe Abbey)
Originally, the Abbaye de Hautecombe (Hautecombe Abbey) was located in Cessens and not on the shores of the Lac du Bourget. In 1101, Benedictine monks from the Abbaye d’Aulps (Aulps Abbey, Haute-Savoie), looking for a remote area that would be suited for their praying life, found a place called Plateau de Paquenot in Cessens. This is where they established their priory, on a hill they named “Hautecombe“. They lived a recluse life for the next 30 years. It is said that they quickly were disrupted, as the Sapenay road was quite busy at the time, and that they had soon considered looking for another – and quieter – location.
In 1135, Saint Bernard, during a visit to the monks of Cessens, had a dream: he saw a light rising up from the priory, moving across the lake and reach a precise point on the other shore. He praised the monks to follow this holy sign, which they did. They left Cessens shortly after that to settle on the shores of the Lac du Bourget. The Abbaye d’Hautecombe was named after their first priory.
The legend of the Wedding Cross
A special relationship had been established between the monks and Cessens unhabitants and therefore people were sad to learn that the priory would be abandoned. On the departure day, many people walked the monks along the Sapenay road. When time to say goodbye had come, the prior gave money as dowry to the poorest and most righteous girls of the village. He was hoping, that by doing so, the girls and their children to come would long pray for the monks. He took some branches, made a cross out of it, planted it at the beginning of a trail and said:
Let’s kneel in front of this cross. May it remind you of us each time you see it along the road.
Years later, Cessens’ unhabitants decided to build a cross out of stone at the exact same location. Throughout the centuries, many girls being of marriage age have come to pray by the cross in order to find a husband.