Foundling Wheel, Mâcon – Mâcon, France - Atlas Obscura

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Foundling Wheel, Mâcon

Mâcon, France

During the 17th-century, orphaned infants were placed in this barrel to be cared for by the hospital.  


The small town of Mâcon in Burgundy is full of very interesting heritage sites and one of the most curious elements is this barrel which is at the Residence Soufflot. It was used to accommodate babies abandoned in the 17th-century.

The hospital was founded in 1621 by Saint Vincent de Paul who was shocked when visiting the city by the number of needy people.

The hospice was rebuilt from 1752 to 1761 according to the plans of the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot.

The barrel rotated and parents who wanted to put their baby in it to entrust them to the institution then rotated the barrel again so that the baby was in the building. They then pulled on a bell to alert the hospital sisters to the presence of a child inside. Thus, the parents could remain anonymous and leave after having put the baby in the shelter.

Parents sometimes left children with messages, small jewels, or religious objects. Eventually, this system was banned. Mâcon has the merit of offering a unique example of this system in the region, which makes the visit interesting.

Know Before You Go

Please don't try to remove the baby hatch, it's fixed.

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May 17, 2022

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