Saint-Didier in Avignon and king René's retable

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The retable - ©Marianne Casamance / CC-BY-SA The retable - ©Marianne Casamance / CC-BY-SA
Saint-Didier church in Avignon Collegiate church René d’Anjou

But the most beautiful piece of art here is the retable of the Christ carrying the Cross: a unique piece ordered by king René to the Italian master Francesco Laurana in 1481.

First French work of art of the Renaissance era, it was originally displayed in Célestins church of Avignon, a church René decorated, especially with an emerald a ruby cross... This retable is a real gem: Virgin Mary fainted, so they called it "Our-Lady-of-the-Spasm retable"!

The main and central scene represents Jesus and his hangmen on one side, the Virgin on the other side. In the middle, John. On the right, Magdalene. Some said that the young lady supporting Mary was sainte Marthe. Why not! On sides, we have saint Pierre Célestin and saint Benoît. Below, a Latin sentence says:

Siciludum régis hec sunt monimenta Renati. Jusserat hec quondam fieri que Ka-rolus heres Rex pius absolvi voluit que marmora cernis. Tristia cum gemitu Christi spectacula cunclis Ad mortem liceat vobis spectare fidèles.

Cogitur ecce piis humeris cesusque cruentus Fer[re cru]cem lassus qua criraina nostra ferantur Sacrilegasque nianus Judec gentis inique. Discite dura pati cunctosque subire labores. Discite Christi cole, memoresque estote dolorum Quos Deus ecce tulit. Sic vos licet esse beatos. Anno IIIV XPR MCCCCLXXXI

Which means in English:

Here’s king René's monument. Charles, his heir, a pious king, completed it. Look, believers, the sad scene of Jesus who’s going to die. Tired, bloody, he’s carrying the cross to erase our crimes. Suffer as he suffers, learn to bear your pains and remember his own pains. So you can get beatitude.

On the right of the inscription, we have René’s coat of arms, made by Laurana’s hand...


And also!