A mysterious zodiac in Saint-Austremoine church

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The zodiac - ©Torsade de Pointes / CC0 The zodiac - ©Torsade de Pointes / CC0
Saint-Austremoine church in Issoire Parish church Mystery

Issoire is one of the 5 main churches in Auvergne. Do you know who's saint Austremoine? Well, the first apostle in Auvergne, sent there by the Pope in the 3th century with 7 others bishops, in order to evangelize the Gaul. Austremoine settled near Clermont city and founded a Benedictine monastery flanked by his church... the one we are now talking about!

The priory was besieged when Barbarians invaded the area in the 9th century, then monks get back one century later; in the 10th century, some friars came from the abbey of Charroux restored the monastery of Issoire. But this one started to decline.

War of religion came, making lots of damages: Mathieu Merle, a Protestant captain, tried to burn the church, in vain. A document mentioned the devastation they made: "the two bell-towers were demolished, the church was window-less, bells were broken..." During the French revolution, they sold the church.

Listed as a Monument Historique in 1835, restoration work began the same year. Everything had to be rebuilt: walls were entirely decorated with paintings made by Dauvergne in 1862, the chapiters were restored by Mallay in 1852, the roof was changed... So, the little church dates back to the 12th century.

Built in lava stone with a Latin cross plan, we can see a nave flanked by aisles, a transept with apsidioles, a choir and an apse with chapels and ambulatory. On the outside front, we can see black and white stones tinted with red. Look at that! Those geometrical patterns decorate transept and chapels' walls: triangles, lozenges, circles and human faces in low relief represented Zodiac...

And also!