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.

Poitiers ch ste radegonde front belltower oct21

Poitiers ch ste radegonde nave to organ oct21

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.

Poitiers ch ste radegonde front oct21

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.

Poitiers ch ste radegonde nave to altar oct21

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.

Poitiers ch ste radegonde chapel ste radegonde oct21

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.

Poitiers ch ste radegonde chapel st joseph oct21

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.

Poitiers ch ste radegond chapel virgin et child oct21

Poitiers ch ste radegonde tomb of ste radegonde oct21

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.

Poitiers ch ste radegonde organ oct21
Poitiers ch ste radegonde portrait Christ et disciples oct21

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 !

Poitiers ch ste radegonde statue Christ oct21

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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