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The Church of St Christopher in the Graveyard

 

The Church of St Christopher in the Graveyard

A 12th century bell-tower which underwent alterations in the 13th and 14th centuries, and a small nave where we can see that the lower part of one wall must have been built with a fishbone tool, are all that remain of the Romanesque church which must once have been much larger (at least two or three bays longer).

Traces of a roof on the west face of the tower leave can only leave us guessing although we know that in the 19th century the length of the building was reduced by half. The chancel is barrel-vaulted and a cornice runs around the beginnings of the vault. To the north and the south semi-circular arches sit on jutting-out shelves (imposts) which are, themselves, supported by square columns.
The bell-tower rises above the chancel and, at its peak, a bracket-supported cornice has human faces sculpted in each corner. Each of the bell-tower’s four walls are decorated with two arches. The roof used to be covered in ‘lauze’ stone tiles but the upper part has been re-roofed in flat tiles.

 


Pantocrator

 

The Graveyard Church Wall Paintings

The small church harbours extremely valuable wall paintings.

On the vault :
Symbolising the universe, scattered stars form a background to a sun and moon both represented with human faces. In the centre Christ in all His majesty, or Pantocrator, sits on a throne, his right hand held high in a gesture of blessing. Around him the four evangelists are depicted as :
• a lion (Mark)
• a winged man (Matthew)
• a bull (Luke)
• an eagle (John) (sadly, no longer visible)
The three visible symbols have their heads turned towards Christ in contemplation.

 


Luke represented by a bull.

 

At the back of the chancel :
To the left of the arch, a scene of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel, on the left, has come to tell Mary that she has been chosen by Holy Spirit and to announce her future pregnancy.
On the right, St Christopher, patron saint of the church. He is represented as a powerful character with a sketched-in face. He is leaning on a thick, blossoming staff and carries the infant Christ on his shoulders.

 


Saint Léonard

 

The first left-hand arch in the chancel :
This Romanesque-style painting is certainly the oldest in the church. The composition is framed; in the centre, identified by an inscription, is St Leonard and kneeling at his feet two people pay him homage. High in the picture, two angels point out the scene.

     

In the bottom right-hand corner, a building with an open door represents a prison. St Leonard, a companion of Clovis, was given permission by the latter to liberate the prisoners and this is what the painting depicts. The two people kneeling are thanking the saint for having freed them from prison.

In the nave :
On the south wall scenes from the Last Supper and two apostles are still visible. In the 19th century the nave was shortened and lowered and many paintings were destroyed.
An enormous head on the north wall can just about be discerned. It is Leviathan and in his mouth the damned writhe in torment. To the left of Leviathan, part of another scene representing the seven Deadly Sins is framed, but only one figure, possibly Lust, is still visible.


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