Saturday, February 21, 2015

Religion and Art

Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption
It seems that Montauban has attracted a great deal of religious turmoil during its long history. Being the home of many Cathars, the city was attacked and taken during the Albigensian Crusade and suffered then under the Inquisition that followed in the early 14th century. It was later ceded to the English who held it for only 64 years before being ousted. In 1560, the city embraced Protestantism and the bishop and monks were expelled and their Cathedral demolished. It became a Huguenot stronghold and the seat of the Huguenot rebellion of 1621. It remained Protestant until 1685 when the Catholics rose and took it over once again. Of course, with the French Revolution of 1790, all religion was banned. A complicated and bloody religious history, I'd say!
Spire of the Church of St. Jacques seen above the square
Today there are several churches in Montauban. The Cathedral is a very imposing building. We didn't go inside, but I found the outside rather graceless and in need of a good cleaning. It's difficult to see, but the statues and stonework were all coated with the black grime that comes for automobile exhaust.
Entrance l'Eglise St. Jacques
We did visit the Church of St. Jacques. It was a little disappointing as well. It was very dark and dank inside making it difficult to see the many large oil paintings hung around the building. The walls had been beautifully painted, but the years have taken a many places the paint is peeling and moldy. The entire interior could use a good restoration crew.

Last time's trivia question...did you guess the identity of the famous lady who hid out in Montauban?? It was Mona Lisa who spent a few months hidden in a secret room in the Musee Ingres during WWII. Moved from the Louvre in anticipation of the German occupation of Paris, she and over 3000 other works of art stopped first at the Abbey Loc-Dieu in the Aveyron. She was only there a few months, though, before it was determined that conditions in this remote Abbey were too damp for the priceless art. Everything was moved then to Montauban. When the Germans occupied the Free Zone in November 1942, the Mona Lisa was moved once again...this time to the lovely Chateau de Montal in the Lot near Rocamadour where she spent the remainder of the war. It's a hard life being a war refuge! 

1 comment:

  1. I love Montauban....I have some real history there myself....thanks for the visit.