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Airvault and its foundation: Hildéarde or Pierre?

Saine-Fontaine's grave | Père Igor / CC-BY-SA
Parish church Saint-Pierre church in Airvault

Hildéarde or Pierre?

This church used to belong to an abbey founded in the 10th century by Hildéarde d'Aulnay, viscount of Thouars Herbert I’s wife. With its large porch, its nave with two aisles, its choir surrounds by an ambulatory, the Romanesque church dates back to the beginning of the 12th c. Abbot Pierre de Saine-Fontaine raised it.

Come over here! The nave, which wasn’t vaulted at the beginning, was covered with several intersecting ribs in the 13th c., overlapping the one with the other, creating a unique pattern here, in Poitou! The transept dates back to the 13th c., the sacristy to the 15th c.

Now, if you look closely, you’ll notice a grave: historians thought it was Hildéarde's tomb, the lady who founded the church. But in fact, it’s Pierre de Saine-Fontaine’s grave! How do we know that? Well, his name is carved on the stone, Petrus primus abbas, which means “Pierre first abbot”.

The visit of St-Pierre d’Airvault

Don’t miss the mechanical organ (19th c), the nice Romanesque grave belonging to Pierre de Saine-Fontaine and the Romanesque capitals: scenes of feast (the wedding at Cana?), mysterious animals, knights…

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!