In the Middle Ages Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain became a major Christian pilgrimage destination after the discovery of what were thought to be the remains of St. James, one of the twelve apostles. It is estimated that as many as 500,000 pilgrims trekked over the Pyrenees on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
One of the pilgrimage routes passed through Aubrac. The harsh, snowbound winters of the plateau --sometimes exceeding 1000 meters in altitude-- were especially dreaded by pilgrims.
According to legend it was in the vicinity of Aubrac that a certain Viscount Aladar from Flanders was attacked by robbers and almost perished from the cold. He prayed to God for help and vowed to found a monastery for pilgrims if his life was spared. Having survived the attack and returned safely from his pilgrimage, he built the Aubrac Monastery and its adjoining hospital.
Over the centuries the inhabitants of Aubrac welcomed and helped pilgrims through their trials and tribulations. The Aubrac Monastery provided them with food and shelter, and during winter storms its bell rang out night and day to guide their weary steps to the hospitality awaiting them. This bell is engraved with the following Latin inscription: "Praise the Lord, chime for the clergy, ward off demons and gather in lost souls."