In 1134 three Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem who were prisoners of the Muslims in Egypt, miraculously found or received in their prison, a statue of Our Lady, which they named Our Lady of Joy, or Notre Dame de Liesse.
A young Muslim princess named Ismerie took an interest in the Knights in response to their prayers, and through the intercession of Our Lady and the mercy of God, she was converted, arranged the escape of the pious crusaders and joined them on their journey to France. They carried the statue with them and in the region of Laon, about 35 miles northwest of Rheims; they founded a church as a resting place for the image of Our Lady.
Through local devotion, the church took on the name of the statue and gave that name to the entire region, so that Notre Dame de Liesse came to refer to both the devotion and the place. The statue came to be venerated by many and Notre Dame de Liesse became the Patroness of the Diocese of Soissons.
In 1620 the titular Bailiff of Armenia, Fra’ Jacques Chenu de Bellay built a church to Our Lady of Liesse at Valletta in Malta. Today it is the chaplaincy church of the Port of Valletta.
The original statue was destroyed during the French Revolution but the medieval basilica at Liesse remained a center of devotion to the Mother of God and a new statue was installed and crowned there in 1857. It is still the focus of pilgrimage, especially on Whit Monday.
Memorial in the Missal of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.