Ennezat church: the skinflint's hell, the dead's dance

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The church - ©Devisme.alain / CC-BY-SA The church - ©Devisme.alain / CC-BY-SA
St-Victor-Ste-Couronne church in Ennezat Collegiate church

The swamps’ cathedral

White hairs and lava stone

Hear ye, hear ye… Once upon a time where counts of Auvergne found the grass was greener, in Ennezat… One of them, Guillaume III, an old men with white hairs (he was nicknamed ″Tow’s Face″) decided to raise a luxurious palace, here, in the 10th century...

His successor, Guillaume IV, turned up and founded a nice Romanesque collegiate church made of Volvic stone for the Gothic parts. 12 cannons settled: they had lots of work to do! Yes, they had to clean the area, to empty all the surrounding stinky swamps… ugh! Besides, our church was nicknamed… ″the swamps’ cathedral″!

On the road again

By the way… the church was dedicated to saint Victor and sainte Couronne, two martyrs especially worshiped in Compostela. Maybe that’s why in Ennezat, pilgrims used to make a stop on the long road towards Spain?

Fortifying the place

Anyway, all the kings and prince of that time gave lot of money to the new collegiate church! Later, the cannons altered it but kept the Romanesque nave, the transept and the choir. And when war of Religion came, they fortified the church, in 1576: a good protection against Protestants!

The visit of Ennezat

So, our church has two different part: the first one, Gothic (chapels, choir) in black lava stone and the second one, Romanesque (nave, transept, aisles) made of white stone: a nice mix, typical of that part of Auvergne!

Shoo, in hell!

Hey, look! Do you see the two capitals in the transept? Don’t miss the one representing the miser’s soul (11th c.): oh, you’ll recognize him, he’s wearing a purse around his neck and there’s a treasure at his feet. Two demons hold him prisoner. And the Devil speaks. Yes! He says: CANDO VSURAM ACEPISTI OPERA MEA FECISTI (″You were a miser, now, act according to my order″)

Naughty modillions!

The famous historian Prosper Mérimée was pretty shocked after his visit in Ennezat. Whoa, those modillions! They are pretty… indecent! And yet he wasn’t prude! Do you know what are modillions? Blocks of carved stone put under cornices, to support them, typical of the Romanesque style. Sculptors carved monsters and bawdy scenes on them!

So, the two modillions which ″shocked″ Prosper are women showing us their back, and a tonsured monk, sitting, with a naked woman hugging him. He’s going to have a jolly good time! Em! Prosper hesitated: ″Is there an allusion to a depraved monk discovering lust, or a piece of mischief from the sculptor?″

Dead... or alive

Here, we can see some nice wall painting from the 15th century. First, a fresco about the story of the trois Morts et des trois Vifs (″The 3 Dead and the 3 Living″), a very famous tale from the Middle Ages! Ooo, yes, you probably heard about it: 3 skeletons are in front of 3 lords. The moral? Kings like simple chaps, we will all die one day, life is only futility...

Damned women!

Hey, wait for the second fresco! About the Last Judgment: on one side, we can see the chosen led by angels in Heaven, and the damned on the other side. The damned ones are only… women!

And below, do you see that? An angel looking at a cadaver. A banner in the dead man’s hand says: Prya pour moi qui me reguardes Quar tyel seras quat que tu tardes Fais bien tandis que tu vis Quar après la mort n'auras nulz amis. (″Pray for me, because soon you’ll be like me, dead. And in the next world, you’ll have no friend″) The angel answers: Reguarda la graid pityé de nature humayne Commet vient à destruccion et forma vilayne. (″Look at us, poor human being, who soon will turn into dust″)


And also!