Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ancient Cross

Cross, church and Chateau
St. Remy (Aveyron)

When I toured the ancient church in Toulongergues on patrimoine weekend, I purchased a booklet of the history of the church and its Priory. As I was leafing through it at home, I happened to turn it over and on the back cover was a hand-written/hand-drawn story about an ancient cross that was originally at the Toulongergues church. Apparently, it was moved to St. Remy, a larger village a few kilometers from Toulongergues in 1865. Lucie and I set out on a beautiful morning to see if we could find it.

And we did without any problem! Monsieur Binot was the cure at this church in St. Remy in the mid-1800s. As it was the actual parish church for the area,  he had this magnificent cross moved to its cemetery in 1865 where it remains today. The cross is sculpted in stone and stands very tall over the graves of the faithful. It is an unusual octagonal shape raised on a tiered base. It was first mentioned in church records in 1496. At one time the flat surfaces around the base were carved in bas-relief designs. Centuries of being exposed to all extremes of weather have pretty much wiped them away...only a few vestiges of the designs remain.

The arms and the top of the cross are sculpted crowns.
The back side which faces the church contains the figure of the crucified Christ. At his feet on either side are the figures of two men...St. Peter and St. Paul, the patron saints of the church at Toulongergues.
On the opposite side is a lovely Virgin holding the Christ Child. The angel hovering over her head is holding her crown.

I'm sure this cross was spectacular in its original setting in front of the tall, austere pre-Romanesque church in Toulongergues just as it is here....behind the parish church with the village Chateau in the background.

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