The menhir just outside of the Basilique Notre-Dame de l’Épine (Our Lady of the Thorn) shows how Évron was once a site of great spiritual pilgrimage even before the introduction of Christianity. The first mention of a church in Évron occurs in the testament written in 642 by Saint Hadouin, bishop of Le Mans. The Legend of the Thorn tells of a pilgrim who, returning from the Holy Land with a few drops of the Virgin’s milk, fell asleep at the foot of the hawthorn where he had hung his bag containing the precious relic. When he awoke, the tree had grown so much that the bag was out of reach. But bishop Hadouin, who was visiting the area, prayed and promised to build a monastery on the site. The hawthorn bent down to return the relic. Thus Notre-Dame de l’Épine, or L'Aubepine (Our Lady of the Thorn, or Hawthorn) was founded in the 7th century, becoming an important pilgrimage destination and a Benedictine abbey. Destroyed during the Breton and Norman invasions of the 9th century, the Abbey's reconstruction began in 989 by order of the Viscount of Maine. This led to the foundation of a monastic village which later became the town of Evron. The 16th century organ case rests high above the western wall where one of the walls still reveals remains of a fresco depicting the Nursing Virgin and probably dates from the 13th century. The Gothic windows of the central nave were installed in the 15th century to provide more light while the stained glass of the choir were installed in the 14th century and depict the legend of the abbey. There are some fine sculptures throughout the abbey as well. Situated above the southern pillar in the choir is a relief composed of two registers. The lower section depicts men suffering from violent toothaches consulting the extractor for relief of their pain. In the upper register, a monk listens to the confession of a kneeling man. The tooth extraction and the confession were placed in the same composition to illustrate the relationship between the two: the believer comes to relieve his soul of sin as he does to relieve his physical pain with the tooth extractor. A chapel was built in the 12th century to the north of the Romanesque apse. It was originally separate from the abbey church, but 13th century reconstructions combined the two buildings. The semi-circular apse is decorated with a beautiful 14 century fresco of Christ in Majesty. The chapel was formerly dedicated to the Virgin and its 13th century statue of the Virgin should not be missed.