Cardinal Lagrange's skeleton

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The façade - ©Shoshanah / CC-BY The façade - ©Shoshanah / CC-BY
St-Martial collège in Avignon Parish church

Missing works of art...

Before the French Revolution and its damages, we found here lots of nice graves:

• the one of cardinal Pierre de Cros, founder of the church
• cardinal d'Aigrefeuille’s grave
• Raymond de Beaufort’s grave (the famous ″plague of Provence″ Raymond de Turenne’s uncle)
• Jean Fabri bishop of Chartres’ one
• Jacques de Causans’ tombstone...

And we have the marble bust of pope Urban V, coming from his grave raised by the Benedictines of Avignon in the church of St-Martial. Surprise! We can see it today in Calvet museum in Avignon! We can see the pope’s face, his tiara on his head. Look! He has wrinkles on his forehead.

... and an exceptional transi

A transi?!

In the church there used to be a giant grave (15 m. high): the one of cardinal de La Grange, flanks by an impressive skeleton statue! This kind of statue is a transi in French (″cadaver tomb″).

In medieval and Renaissance art, it’s the sculpture of a dead man. A realistic representation of a cadaver, if you want, unlike a recumbent figure which shows the dead quietly sleeping.

Do you know we have several transi in France? The one of René de Châlon in Bar-le-Duc, the one of Guillaume d'Harcigny in Laon, Louis XII and Anne of Brittany’s transi in the basilica Saint-Denis…

Brr, the representation of mighty death! In those times, people were so afraid of death, with all those epidemics and wars… Like the danses macabres paintings, the skeleton echoes one thing: king or peasant, we will all return to dust...

Lagrange’s skeleton

So, today, Lagrange’s transi is displaying in the Petit-Palais museum in Avignon. Lagrange was bishop of Amiens and king Charles V’s minister.

He settled in Avignon after the king’s death, and died here in 1402. His skeleton remained in Avignon and his bones were buried in a giant and gorgeous grave. Hey, let’s examine it: the skeleton lies in the foreground, with the Latin sentence:

″We are like a show for the world, so young and old can realize they will turn into dust after their death. No one is expelled, whatever his age, his status, his sex. So, you wretch, why are you so proud? You’re only dust and you will turn into dust, like us, simple food for the worms.″

The 15 metres high grave is in a Gothic arch protected by a gate in the lower part. Behind this gate were 5 ranks of characters! On the foreground, our transi. Above, 5 floors of statues which represented the Virgin’s life!


And also!