A little history of Saint-Marcel church
The Romanesque church
There’s trouble brewing, Marcel!
The first mention of the corpse of saint Marcel from Argenton appeared in the 11th century texts: Marcel was martyrized in 260, near Argenton! Damned! Why? Because Marcel and his friends cured a child in Argentomagus. A miracle! But Romans didn’t liked Christians miracles. They tortured them so they could expiate their faith. Marcel preferred to die… After his martyr, he was buried in a tiny chapel raised on the location of the actual church: a worship of his relics began and a pilgrimage was created… Later a priory belonging to Saint-Gildas abbey of Châteauroux moved in: they raised a Romanesque church with a unique nave, covered with a timber work.
Then the portal was raised in the 12th century with its interlacing and fantastical animals, decorated with diamonds points. This part of the church uses antic stones! Maybe coming from the neighbouring Gallo-Roman site of Argentomagus? We have the chevet and the crypt from the same era. In the beginning of the 15th century, they covered the timber work with a stone vault.
What about the bell-tower? Aaah, you can’t miss it… This square tower raised in the beginning of the 15 c., flanks by its nice chestnut roof and loopholes, was used as a keep! The tower hides 3 bells from 1868: Laurent, Anastase and Marcel, the heaviest one: 1 900 kilos!
The visit of St-Marcel
You naughty sinners!
First surprise: above the entrance door, we have a relief mural of Notre-Dame-de-Pitié (16th c)! We can see king saint Louis introducing Louis Mars, canon of Bourges, to the Virgin Mary. Mars lived in Saint-Marcel in the beginning of the 16th century: we can see his blazon on the painting. Below, a sentence in Gothic letters reminds us our sins!
In the choir, nice stalls (16th c.): prior of Saint-Marcel, Antoine Barbault (we already met that guy in chapel St-Benoît of Argenton) ordered them. Misericords (the part of the stall where a monk could sit when his stall was picked up) are pretty nice! Faces, little characters showing their bottoms… The sculptor wanted to make fun of a lord, a well up prelate, didn't he?
The crypt used to exist before the construction of the Romanesque church: it used to house Marcel’s grave, martyrized at that precise place. Did you notice those Carolingian stones displaying on the wall? The tradition says they come from Marcel’s grave! And for the little story, the crypt used to be a wine cellar for private individuals…