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L'Église St-Hilarion-de-Perse (SE Espalion)


Link to photos from inside the church


Link to Maps of the Pilgrimage Roads of France

Back to from Aubrac to the River Lot and Conques



The 10 / 1100s Église St-Hilarion-de-Perse now oversees a cemetery in SE Espalion (it is signposted from the main street).  It was once the church of a significant priory on a site where, according to legend, St-Hilarion was beheaded by Saracens in the time of Charlemagne.  The priory, which became a daughter house of Conques in 1060 and was sadly monstored by Calvanist Protestants in 1568,  would have had close links with the pilgrims walking the le-Puy / Conques "road" along the nearby Lot (or Olt in the local dialect) river valley, and the church is a beautiful example of local Romanesque monastic sculpture, architecture and stone.  


The south door must have been a magnificent ensemble in its days in the sun, and even now the last judgement scenes on the door lintel are a cut or ten above what you normally find in even larger churches.  On the left of the lintel is a unique tetramorph representation of Satan and four retainers, balanced at the other end by a tetramorph of Christ and the four apostles.










Mary, Baby Jesus and the Magi oversee the old south nave entrance


The Magi in Art and Sculpture








The lintel ensemble includes a "tétramorphe diabolioque" - that's the foursome (ignoring the two lady "onlookers") around the seated devil on the left.  The representation, whose characters obviously relate to those in tympanum of the the mother house of Conques, is said to be "without doubt unique in Europe" - it certainly is unique to the Nikons of Team Paradox!  There is a more "standard" evangelist tetramorph at the goodies end of the lintel.




The Last Judgement reliefs on the lintel are arranged with the bad guys on the left and the goodies on the right (normally it is the other way round) and this fascinating renovators' pot pourri in the middle.  Could those be scale pans to the right and left of the face in the middle?  What's with the angel with tongs?  Who owned the dancing bottoms mooning on the inserted block?  Our iconic favourite Michael the Archangel should be holding the scales of judgement in the middle, could that be him on the top right dropping a fish on the proceedings just to be a bit different?




At the right end of the lintel is this wonderful primitive tetramorph.  A mandorlared Christ is a bit Madonnaish with what looks like a couple of bubs on his knee.  He is surrounded by the signs of the four evangelists - the angel of Matthew (top right) then clockwise the lion of Mark, the winged ox of Luke and lastly the eagle of John.    



Link to Perse website





Two medieval lovers - quite possibly real people, whose togetherness has lasted for hundreds of years.








Looks like a stoup which has escaped to a place of safety half way up a wall !



and there are more .......





a local history site


Back to from Aubrac to the River Lot and Conques



Link to photos from inside the church



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