In 1177, a young shepherd named Bénézet came down from the mountains of the Ardèche. He said he was sent by God to build a bridge in Avignon.
At first, people took him for a madman, but he had heard a voice from heaven telling him : "Bénézet, take your crook and go to Avignon, the capital by the water : you will speak to the inhabitants and you will tell them that a bridge must be built".
One Sunday holiday, while the bishop of Avignon gave his blessing on the square in front of Notre-Dame, Bénézet called to him : "Lord Bishop, I have been commissioned by the Almighty to build a bridge across the Rhône"...
Mocked by the Avignonnais, the shepherd was challenged by the prelate to take an enormous stone on his shoulders and throw it into the Rhône. Bénézet doesn't hesitate an instant, and watched by the amazed crowd, picked up the stone block and threw it into the water, helped, they say, by divine intervention, and even by angels bathed in golden light.
This beautiful legend of Saint Bénézet was passed down through popular beliefs, for the building of the bridge represented a challenge against the elements. The Saint Bénézet bridge is the oldest work constructed on the Rhône, between Lyon and the sea, in the 12th century.
Saint Benezet Bridge in Avignon
The relics of Saint- Benezet - Saint Didier church of Avignon