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Beauregard & Bassac Town Hall
 

 

Bassac Romanesque Chapel
Bassac is situated just slightly to the side of the Crempse Valley and the old Roman road from Vésone to Agen.
St Avit (450 -518) sanctified the spot which had long served for pagan ceremonies and founded a hermitage next to source.
Later, around the year 1000, a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built and
a porch was added in the 12th century.
Over the centuries the it suffered considerable damage, particularly during the Wars of Religion, which reduced its size dramatically.
The chancel, originally Romanesque, was later modified in a Gothic style. Two side chapels were added later still.

It became the parish church and a place of pilgrimage until the Revolution put an end to any religious activity there for a number of years.
With the return of peace, the inhabitants of Bassac opened their church again and in 1894 a thousand pilgrims from neighbouring parishes filed past with their banners to honour the Virgin of Bassac with a pilgrimage.
Every year since then a small congregation perpetuates this tradition on the afternoon of the first Sunday of September.

The venerated Virgin Mary is represented by a 16th century polychrome stone statue in the chancel in the place of an older statue which has disappeared leaving behind the legendary memory of a Black Virgin Mary. She holds the infant Jesus on her right hip and at her feet lies an angel’s head. She is often clothed in a 19th century embroidered dress.
Two 17th and 18th century alter pieces in each of the side chapels are in urgent need of repair.
One is gilt, the other polychrome and decorated with the Malta Cross although the reason for this is unknown.
Both chapels have statues which are preserved in a safe environment and taken out for ceremonies such as the annual pilgrimage, weddings and christenings.
The Aubusson family who lived in the Beauregard château for several generations also owned land and property in Bassac from 1520 to the 18th century.

This latter fact explains how a litre bearing five family hatchments came to be found during work on Bassac church in 1986. Sadly, however, it was subsequently destroyed when the walls were sanded. The only trace of the blazons are now the photographs which hang in very spots they were originally discovered. Inside, several traces of a litre still exist on either side of the entrance door on the corner stones and on the right side of the chapel. The Way of the Cross, lovingly restored in 1986 had suffered considerably from the damp. Despite being extremely fragile, the lithographs provide a fine example of this early 19th century art form and have preserved their colours wonderfully.

 

 

To the rear of the chancel are the ruins of a stone alter dating from the Romanesque period which was badly damaged in the 19th century. The wooden alter facing the congregation was saved and brought back from Algeria by Fathers Pincos and Sulauze and, having been stored at Bassillac for a number of years, was given to Bassac in 1997 by Father Michel Ventose.
In 1747 the geographer, Pierre de Beleyme was born in Bassac and according to baptismal records, it would appear that he was christened in this little church.


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