The monastery at Cunault along the banks of the Loire, downstream from Saumur, was founded in the fourth century by Saint-Maxenceul the area’s first evangelizer. Monks from Noirmoutier then founded an abbey here in 847 but were expelled from Cunault during the Viking invasions and fled to the Abbey of Tournus in Burgundy. They came back in 858, bringing with them the relics of Saint-Philibert and a reliquary containing a vial of dust from the cave of the Nativity which was moist from the breast milk of the Virgin Mary—this led to the church being named in her honor and drew many pilgrims to the region. A new church was built in the 11th century and the priory was enriched through the favors of the lords of Anjou, Fulk IV Rechin and Fulk Nerra. After the Hundred Years War, the priory grew weak and was closed. In 1749, the choir was sold to an individual who made it into a barn while the nave became a parish church. Finally, the building was sold as national property during the Revolution. Notre-Dame de Cunault is famous for its 223 carved and painted murals that make a true artistic treasure. The church keeps its place the shrine of St. Maxenceul, the founder of the abbey church. His reliquary is almost like a small church itself with a roof and a door. It is carved from a single block of walnut and depicts scenes from Christ’s life including the Last Supper and Pentecost. This is a piece of furniture inside the church which was used to store vestments.