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The Chapel in a 1000-year-old Oak Tree

Oak ChapelPhoto: Ji-Elle
Standing tall and proud, limbs akimbo, this wonderful oak is between 800 and 1200 years old. Found in a small village called Allouville-Bellefosse in France, it has two small chapels in it that are still in use today. One is reached by a spiral staircase and the other is in a hollow on the ground 'floor'.

Oak ChapelPhoto: Le ghola
Locals say the oak has been alive since the time of Charlemagne and William the Conqueror in 1035 but a few scientists say 800 years. Whatever the truth of the matter, it is one of the oldest trees in France and may be one of the oldest in the world.
Oak ChapelPhoto: Le ghola
The tree did not always have the chapel - in the 1600s, it was hit by lightning and much of the tree was hollowed out. These hollows were noticed by two men of the cloth, Aboot Du Detroit and Father Du Cerceau. They built the first chapel to the Virgin Mary in the trunk and later added the second one.
Chene du chapellePhoto: Le ghola
Not only did the oak escape death from the lightning strike but it also escaped death during the Revolution. A crowd came to burn it as a symbol of the hated church and the old ways when a smart local renamed it the temple of reason and it was spared.
Oak ChapelPhoto: Le ghola
The shingles on the tree are to cover signs of aging where the bark has fallen away. Part of the trunk has died and the tree itself is supported by poles but the villagers still come to celebrate mass twice a year in it.
Hopefully, the oak can live on longer and stay a symbol of faith and reason for the people.
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