La Berthenoux, former Britonoria, was named after a colony of Bretons, settled here since the 5th century. The church itself was raised in the 12th century and was dependent of Massay abbey (Cher). It was part of a very important Benedictine priory. Proof of that? Monks founded here a big fair in the 13th century (this fair still exists)!
Let’s start to examine the big bell-tower, then the portal decorated with capitals, then, the nice chevet. Hey, from this chevet, we have a lovely view on the church! And we notice the little modillions, all along the building, those funny stony heads…
Next to the church, we notice a big tower. What’s this? Remains of the old fortifications which used to protect the priory and the church in the Middle Ages!
Come, on, let’s go inside! We discover a lovely Romanesque church with its single nave, covered in the 19th century by a plaster intersecting ribs: today, they replaced it by the primitive wooden framework. And the famous passages berrichons are here! What is it??
Narrow passages, about 45 centimetres wide… Oups, better be lanky! The architect Dauvergne restored the nave in 1878 and re-raised a part of the bell-tower. Fortunately, our church is still gorgeous!
The church houses gorgeous capitals, in the transept. Whoa, look at those details: leaves, volutes, animals, creatures, humans… Like in the church of Bommiers, sculptors put little leaden balls in their eyes… like this, they seemed alive!
We find cats’ heads like in Neuvy-Saint-Sépulchre (the heresy), but also bearded men (wisdom), men with monkeys’ faces… all represent the struggle of the Good and the Evil. And our capitals symbolize of course the 7 deadly sins: lust (women’s heads), greediness (monsters)...
Several little things to notice: statues (a breastfeeding Virgin, a saint Peter and a saint Jean-Baptiste, 16th c.); a copy of the painting displaying in the Louvre museum, by the Spanish José de Ribera: the Shepherds’ Worship. A very good copy, says the little explanatory board!
And don’t miss the abbot Debourges’ portrait, to honour the most famous exorcist priest in Central France!