Archive for October 25th, 2021

October 25, 2021

Cathédrale St Pierre of Poitiers!!!

And making my last round on a fanstastic trip with the boys,and Dad to wonderful inspiring Poitiers. As said, we have been here before way back, and needed to come back for more and the pictures! Finally made it and it was a blast!! Love it!!! Wonderful architecture and history to boot in my belle France! I like to tell you at last a bit on the St Peter’s Cathedral or Cathédrale St Pierre of Poitiers!!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Poitiers Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Poitiers. In addition to its title of archiepiscopal church, it has the rank of minor basilica since March 1, 1912. During these two centuries, successive architects have not deviated from the initial plans, which gives the building a great uniformity coupled with a rather attractive architectural balance. this immense stone vessel is however the largest religious building in the city and a landmark visible from afar in the urban landscape. Yes indeed great work beautiful !

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It is layout in the Angevin Gothic style and is similar to the hall churches by its division into three vessels of equal height. The facade, confined by two unfinished towers, borrows elements from the stylistic grammar of northern France. The interior preserves 13C stalls and a collection of historiated stained glass windows dating from the 12-13C including a Crucifixion, one of the peaks of French medieval stained glass art. The cathedral is built on the site of the ancient cathedral of Hilaire de Poitiers, rebuilt from 839 on the Emperor’s wishes. This primitive cathedral has disappeared. It must have been located not far from the current one, in the lower part of the city, inside the Gallo-Roman wall, which it bordered on. In 1018, a fire destroyed it as well as part of the city in 1024 but it was restored and enlarged by the care of the Count of Poitou, Duke of Aquitaine William the Great. An important council was held there in 1100. The current cathedral was started in the second half of the 12C, around 1162; and it was financed by the bishop and the cathedral chapter but also perhaps by the Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and her husband Henri II Plantagenêt, king of England, as by all the faithful. The construction was long because the church was not definitively consecrated until October 17, 1379. From 1793 to 1795, during the revolutionary period, the cathedral served as the Temple of Reason. The episcopal see was reestablished in 1801. In 1912 it received from Pius X the title of minor basilica.  The cathedral offers very beautiful baroque altars from the abbeys and convents of Poitiers and a sumptuous glass roof from the 12-13C. Note its three key points: the stained-glass window of the Crucifixion in the apse, one of the very first in the Christian world, the stalls considered to be the oldest in France and the great tribune organ, with magnificent sounds, which has come down to us intact from the Ancien Régime(monarchy). The architecture of Saint-Pierre Cathedral is typical of a hall church with its almost identical vault height in the nave and aisles: 30 meters and 24 meters. There is neither side chapel nor apsidal chapel worthy of the name. The length of the cathedral is 100 meters, its width at the transept, 50 meters.

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The apse of Saint-Pierre Cathedral is hollowed out by three shallow apsidioles, each housing an altarpiece. In fact, it is a wall 30 meters high, adorned with three Baroque altars, each surmounted by a very beautiful stained glass window. We can see, on the left, the central altar, that of the Virgin of the Assumption, and a little further ,the altar of Mary Magdalene. On the far left a representation of the Madonna and Child in polychrome wood. The apse is made up of a simple straight wall nearly 50 meters high, without flying buttresses. It is one of the rare cathedrals in France to present this particularity !

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The Porte Saint-Michel door, pierced on the north side of the nave around 1180, is decorated with historiated capitals which form a frieze. On the high cutters, carved only on the left side, are depicted the Magi who visit Herod and ride towards Bethlehem. On the corresponding baskets, pictured the Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt. On the right, the Annunciation, the Dream of Joseph, the Adoration of the Magi and the Visitation are shown, regardless of the narrative chronology. The facade, set back from the two towers, dates from the mid-13C. It is structured by a rose window and three gable portals. The central portal is illustrated by the scene of the Last Judgment, carved on three registers. Saint Michael, sword in hand, separates the elect from the damned who are precipitated towards the monstrous mouth of Leviathan. Christ the Judge shows his wounds. Beside him stand the Virgin and Saint John kneeling, as well as the angels who display the instruments of the Passion. Characters from the Old and New Testaments populate the arches.  The left portal brings together, in two registers, the Dormition of the Virgin and the Coronation of the Virgin. The characters who crowd around Mary, lying on her deathbed at the moment of her Assumption, are remarkable for the elegance of their silhouettes, for the relief and fluidity of the drapes and for the collected dignity of the attitudes. Above, Christ blesses his mother crowned with angels. In the arch, there are saints, and clerics. The tympanum of the right portal is dedicated to Saint Thomas. This thematic choice is rare in Gothic sculpture.

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The interior of St Peter’s Cathedral consists of three vessels that butt against each other Facing the altar in the nave on the right, a tree-shaped labyrinth, drawn in stone less than a meter in diameter at breast height represents perhaps the one that existed on the ground and that has disappeared. Sign of the creation and the unfolding of life, the tree is here elevated to the rank of Christological symbol: the tree of life bearer of salvation, The cathedral has one of the finest sets of stained glass windows from the 12-13C in western France. The three windows of the upper right side are the oldest. In the center, above the altar, there is still one of the oldest stained glass windows in the whole Christian world 12C: the crucifixion window In the middle of the stained glass window, the crucifixion stands out against an unusual red background. Assisted by the Virgin and Saint John, Christ keeps his eyes open in the presence of the soldiers carrying the lance and the sponge. Above the arms of the cross, the Virgin and the Apostles, with various attitudes, are the witnesses of the Ascension designated by two angels. Around this stained-glass window, in the glass roof on the right, the life of Saint Peter is represented and in that on the left, that of Saint Lawrence. The bays on the north side and those in the third south bay are dedicated to the Old Testament, those on the south side to the New Testament.

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The painted decorations in the first bay date from the end of the 13C. A painting on a wall of the nave represents Jesus in Gethsemane and dates from the end of the 17C. Another represents the Holy Family. It dates from 1670-1675. In the center is the Child Jesus. Above him, God the Father and a dove which symbolizes the Holy Spirit. On the left, Anne and Joachim, Marie’s parents. On the right, Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus. In the medallions, are represented the great moments of the life of the Virgin Mary.  In the aftermath of the French revolution, a number of works from suppressed convents or abbeys found room in the cathedral. The stalls were put in place 1235-1257. They are among the oldest preserved in France. These stalls are a fine example of Parisian Gothic. There were originally a hundred of them and today there are 37 on each side. Even reduced to 74, they recall the importance of the cathedral chapter.

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In the south arm of the transept, a beautiful altarpiece dates from the 17C, On the door of the tabernacle, the Virgin who gives a rosary to Saint Dominic and a dog who holds a torch in her mouth are carved. the King of France Louis XIII and his wife Anne of Austria who stopped in Poitiers on their return from their marriage in Bordeaux. In front of the bedside altar, a 17C Virgin and Child. The Virgin makes a rapid movement to move the Child away from the mouth of the serpent which has just arisen under its seat. The flexibility specific to terracotta is singularly suited to expressing the peril of the moment, immediately perceptible in the gestures and the wrinkling of the drapes.

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The St Peter’s Cathedral has organs which are among the most beautiful and famous in France, dating back to the 18C, due to the Parisian organ builder François-Henri Clicquot assisted by his son Claude-François, The great organ was commissioned by the canons in 1787. It was installed in February 1791 leaving the revolutionary period intact, deterioration due to use and the accumulation of dust required restorative interventions during the 19C. The cathedral has a ringing of 6 volleys bells. The drone is found alone in the south tower ,and the other five bells in the north tower. These five bells were cast on Sunday June 15, 1862 by Bollée father and son, founders in Le Mans and baptized on Thursday July 3, 1862. The cathedral treasure is now presented in the south tower. It brings together some sixty works ranging from the 12C to the 20C.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip and it is a must are:

The Parish of the Trinity of Poitiers on the cathedral 

The city of Poitiers and its heritage , see video on the cathedral:

The Poitiers tourist office on the cathedral :

The Organs of Poitiers on the grand organ of the cathedral

The Vienne dept 86 tourist office on the cathedral :

There you go folks, a beautiful testament to the wonders of Poitiers, a must to see in my belle France. The trip was a success both on happy moments of nostalgia and great architecture/history around us, wonderful , sublime. The centerpiece was the Cathédrale St Pierre de Poitiers, a marvel to be visited and come back for more. For now, hope you enjoy the post as I

And remember,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 25, 2021

Sainte Radegonde Church of Poitiers!!

Well now we enters the needy gritty as I said, the wonderful monuments all come to see in Poitiers, Vienne dept 86 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of my belle France. This was a wonderful trip coming back to an old stumping ground and having the opportunity to see these marvels in full detail. Therefore, let me tell you about the Sainte Radegonde Church of Poitiers!!

The Sainte-Radegonde Church is located between Saint-Pierre Cathedral and the Clain river. Built in the 6C by the Queen of the Franks Radegonde under the name of Sainte-Marie-hors-les-murs, the church was renamed Sainte-Radegonde on the death of its founder in 587 after her body was buried there. It was built outside the rampart because of its funerary use; indeed the Gallo-Roman wall, built at the hinge of the 3-4C passed between this church and the Saint-Pierre Cathedral, It still houses the tomb of the city’s patron saint, queen of the Frankish people and wife of King Clotaire I. She had created in Poitiers the first female abbey of Gaul, the abbey Sainte-Croix, The Church Sainte Radegonde is both a parish and collegiate church. It is headed by a prior who is appointed by the Abbess of Sainte-Croix. It is served by a community of clerics, organized in a college of canons from the t10C. The canons provide the service of the prayer of the hours near the tomb of the sainte.

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The Sainte-Radegonde Church, like many pilgrimage churches, adopted a Latin cross layout. The exterior is characterized by an elegant chevet which clearly reflects the layout of the church and finally an arrow tower which surmounts the eastern wall. This arrow is posterior to the construction of the bedside. The steeple-porch is Romanesque with the exception of the door which was refitted in the 15C. The porch upper room, store of bells with passage from the square to the octagon, sloped roof, such is the gradual rise of the steeple-porch. One of these reliefs represents Christ in Majesty. The other shows a seated woman who could represent Sainte Radegonde or the Virgin or a personification of the Church. The flamboyant Gothic-style portal dates from the 15C, as does the rare square which is preserved. It is about a court of justice, surrounded by stone benches, on which sat the ecclesiastical judges judging the religious and civil affairs of the borough. The statues under the canopy of the tympanum date from the 19C. They represent Our Lady, Sainte Radegonde, her two companions and Saint Hilaire.

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Inside is gorgeous me think. The nave was completely rebuilt in the 13C, in the Plantagenêt or Angevin Gothic style. On the north wall of the second bay, it is possible to admire a magnificent glass roof dating from 1270, even if it was subsequently altered. The eight lancets in the lower register are dedicated to the Life and Passion of Christ, and the large rose to the Last Judgment. The arms of France and Castille visible in the central spandrel designate the donor: Count Alphonse de Poitiers, younger son of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castille. A stained glass window in twin bays tells the life and the miracles of Sainte Radegonde. Another describes the life of Saint Blaise. These stained glass windows are both on the north side of the nave. The stained glass window of the life of Sainte Radegonde dates in part from the 13C. It was restored at the end of the 19C. It tells the main facts of the life of the saint in 16 episodes. They are read first from the left lancet and from the bottom up.

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A Gothic enfeu shelters a sculpted group known as the “Pas-de-Dieu”,(steps of God)  representing Sainte Radegonde, dressed in both her religious habit and a fleurdelysé mantle, kneeling in prayer before the standing Christ. It dates from the 17C, the Pas-de-Dieu Chapel being destroyed in 1792 during the French revolution, everything is then transferred to the Sainte-Radegonde Church.

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A chapter house from the end of the 12C the beginning of the 13C is attached to the south wall of the nave. It is in the Angevin style. This room, the Marie Madeleine Chapel, was used by the canons as an oratory. It contains many busts of kings and queens. The apse is heptagonal. It is surrounded by an ambulatory with semicircular radiating chapels. These are in Romanesque style. The axial chapel, which dates from the 11C is dedicated to the Virgin. A historiated capital associates original sin, visible in the ambulatory, and the prophet Daniel in the lion’s den between Habakkuk and the angel. The two lions lick his feet.

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The Choir was repainted in the 19C, The scenes are divided into two superimposed registers, one celestial and the other terrestrial. The Virgin, Sainte Radegonde, recognizable by her red dress and her pastoral staff, her companions from the Sainte-Croix abbey and the saints who counted in her life are represented. Above, a Christ in Majesty throne. The upper part of the walls of the roundabout shows a hagiographic cycle dedicated to Sainte Radegonde, on either side of a bust of Christ. At the top of the choir, the True Cross, associated with the Mystic Lamb, occupies the axial bay, surrounded by the great figures of Radegonde and her friend and counselor Saint Fortunat who will be bishop of Poitiers. At the crossing of the transept, at the entrance to the crypt, a mosaic represents the royal French coat of arms with fleurs-de-lys, a reminder of the royalty of Radegonde, To access the Crypt, you have to take a staircase which is located under the Choir. The small funeral room houses the tomb of Sainte-Radegonde. It is bypassed by an ambulatory with three radiant chapels dedicated to the companions and disciples of Sainte Radegonde: Saint Agnes, abbess of the Sainte-Croix abbey in Poitiers and Sainte Disciole. The tomb of Saint Radegonde is located on the presumed site where she was buried in 587. Near the tomb is the white marble statue of Radegonde, represented as the Queen of France Anne of Austria. Made in the 17C, the statue of Sainte-Radegonde is dressed both as a nun with her wimple and her dress, her veil and her prayer book, and as a queen with her mantle strewn with lilies, her scepter and her crown The Queen of France donates the statue to the Chapter, in recognition of the healing of her son, King Louis XIV, whom Anne of Austria had entrusted to the patronage of the sainte.

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The Sainte-Radegonde Church has had an organ since the Middle Ages. Many repairs over the years until only the repair of the instrument, of which was only keep the facade, was inaugurated in 1997 and now allows the enhancement of all the old and modern repertoire. In the nave, 17C paintings are dedicated to different scenes from the Gospel and to several saints, including Saint Charles Borromeo with different episodes from his life, as well as a representation of the miracle of oats attributed to Sainte Radegonde.

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The Sainte-Radegonde Church is one of the Romanesque sanctuaries of Poitou which honor the relics of local saints as is the case for the abbey of Saint-Maixent which houses the body of Saint Maixent, who died around 515, or the Church Saint-Hilaire the Great of Poitiers which preserved relics of the holy bishop Hilaire or finally of Saintes with those of the bishop Saint Eutrope. In the 17-18C, worship, uninterrupted, enjoyed the favor of the royal family and miracles were still reported, but little by little the pilgrimages became lifeless and were even entirely interrupted during the revolutionary period. They were restored in the 19C and benefited from the growing diffusion of Marian piety, especially after the proclamation, in 1854, of the Immaculate Conception. The amplification is therefore clear under the Second Empire with a rooting in popular piety Very nice a must to visit !

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip and is a must me think, are:

The Parish of the Trinity of Poitiers on the church :

The city of Poitiers on its heritage see video on Ste Radegonde Church

The Organs of Poitiers on Sainte Radegonde webpage :

The Vienne dept 86 tourist office on the church

There you go folks, a beautiful Sainte Radegonde Church of Poitiers, a must to see when in town. We love it and will come back sooner. There is beauty all over here, great architecture and a wonderful history of France. Hope you enjoy the post as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 25, 2021

Notre Dame la Grande Church of Poitiers!!

Well this is another masterpiece in wonderful architecturally and historically stunning Poitiers. We are glad to revisit after several years and will be back sooner! For a reminder, Poitiers sits today in the Vienne dept 86 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of my belle France. I was just there and have several posts forthcoming and this one,is tops, a must to see. Hope you enjoy the post on the Notre Dame la Grande Church of Poitiers!!

The Notre-Dame-la-Grande Church is characteristic of the Poitevin Romanesque style, its sculpted facade is a unanimously recognized masterpiece of religious art from this period.  At the time of Lemonum (Roman Poitiers), the north wall of the church shows the remains of an ancient or pre-Romanesque elevation made up of bricks and stones, with an arch integrated in medieval buildings. Notre-Dame-la-Grande Church is mentioned for the first time in the 10C, under the Latin name of Sancta Maria Major , by then it had a dual status, both parish and collegiate, and depended on the canons of the cathedral. Rebuilt in the 11C, it was consecrated by the future Pope Urban II during his visit to Poitiers in July 1086.

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At the beginning of the 12C, the church underwent major works: the bell tower-porch was demolished, two spans were added to lengthen the nave, and the famous facade was completed around 1115-1130. Throughout the 15-16C, various private chapels belonging to the families of the upper bourgeoisie of Poitou are arranged on the north side of the church in Flamboyant Gothic or Renaissance style, The layout of the church consists of a central nave with very high side aisles according to a pattern common in the Romanesque architecture of Poitou. From the inside one has the effect of a hall church on one level of elevation. The barrel vault has a slightly flattened silhouette, while the aisles are covered with a groin vault. An ambulatory with radiating chapels develops around the choir which has preserved some of its wall paintings. A 11C crypt, dug a posteriori under the choir, also preserves period frescoes.

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The Romanesque portal is partly preserved ,amputated from its floor, one found there before the French revolution, an equestrian statue representing Constantine. This statue was a replica of an older one destroyed by the Huguenots in 1562. It is not known whether the identity of the first rider was the same. Behind this statue upstairs is mentioned in the Middle Ages a small chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine. The bell tower dates from the 11C. It was originally much more marked the first level is now hidden by the roofs.

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Only those in the cul-de-four above the choir and the crypt remain of Romanesque frescoes. Above the choir, there is still an infrequent representation of the apocalypse, the Virgin and Child is represented in a mandorla, Christ is in majesty on the vault, between a circle and a square, then the Lamb. Mystique is depicted in a circle. All around, under arches, the 12 apostles are represented seated, as on the facade. In the crypt, the frescoes represent anonymous saints.

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The whole of the Notre Dame le Grande Church was restored by Joly-Leterme in 1851. The latter had the columns and vaults repainted with Romano-Byzantine motifs, starting from a principle common among 19C restorers, that of influence of crusades on Romanesque art. Other neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic paintings adorn the chapels. It was also during this painting campaign that we discovered the Roman painted remains. Painted in oil on plaster, they quickly deteriorated. The sculptures of the capitals are sober, made up of stylized foliage called fat leaves. A single capital is historiated: located in the ambulatory on the south side, it represents the Ascension with Christ standing in a mandorla. The choir capitals are inspired by the Corinthian capitals of Roman antiquity. The church was refurnished after the French revolution, and most of it is from elsewhere unfortunately.

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Added around the second quarter of the 12C, the screen facade of Notre-Dame-la-Grande Church has a silhouette specific to the Poitevin novel. The facade, flat, is much higher than the church, giving the effect of a backdrop. It is structured by superimposed arches and framed by two turrets. The sculpture adorns the facade profusely. There are frequent motifs from Romanesque art: foliage, bestiary, modillions carved with grimacing heads and fantastic figures. A capital represents elephants facing each other. Above the portal, a frieze has biblical scenes. Above the door, one can contemplate a frieze of high reliefs illustrating passages from the Bible. The selected scenes, taken from the Old and New Testaments, tell of the proclamation and the coming of God to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to save mankind from original sin. It is sometimes called the frieze of the Incarnation. Just above, the arcades house the twelve apostles and two bishops. Local tradition sees Saint-Hilaire and Saint-Martin there. on the right, a bishop recalls the episcopal power of the bishops of Poitiers, barons of Poitou. On the left, the bishop wears the papal attire of the 12C, it is the bishop of Rome, reminder of papal power in a period marked by the Gregorian reform. Traces of polychromy and painted inscriptions have been spotted on the frieze and the figures. They are especially visible to the spectator around the scene of the Annunciation. Difficult to date, they may not be from the Romanesque period, but from the end of the Middle Ages.The inauguration of the restored facade took place in 1995.

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A historical anecdote I like, The Miracle of the keys !  In the year 1202, the English besieged the city of Poitiers. The mayor’s clerk promises to deliver the city to them by providing them with the keys to the city in exchange for a large sum of money, on Easter Day. During the night, the clerk enters the mayor’s room to steal the keys from him, but at the time of seizing them, they had disappeared. When he wakes up, the mayor also realizes the disappearance and, frightened, knows that there has been treason. He therefore warns his army and goes to Notre-Dame-la-Grande Church to pray. There he discovered the statue of the Virgin Mary, keys in hand. During the night, under the ramparts, frightened by the apparitions of the Virgin, Saint Hilaire and Saint Radegonde, the English killed each other and fled. This legend is represented in the church on a 19C stained glass window and on a 17C painting.

The Parish of the Trinity of Poitiers on the Church Notre Dame la Grande

The Poitiers tourist office on the church

The City of Poitiers on its heritage, see video on the church

The Vienne dept 86 tourist office on the church

There you go folks, another dandy from my belle France. A must to see and do come to Poitiers , a wonderland of architecture and historical wonders to have visited and revisited; all worth it. The Notre Dame la Grande Church is an splendid example of this beauty in a neighborhood that is to stay forever! Hope you enjoy the post as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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