Viscount of Bourges, Geoffroy, founded it in 1045, in order to expiate a big sin: his nephew’s murder, son of Eudes prince of Déols. The basilica looks like to the St-Sepulchre in Jerusalem! Oh, they did it on purpose, of course. At that time, every lord left for the Holy Land: Jerusalem and the Christ’s grave (the sepulchre) were an essential stop!
The basilica of Neuvy was raised at a time where they decided to close the sepulchre in Jerusalem, because of its destruction by caliph Hakim in the 11th c. So, a way for the Christians, to travel as if they were in the Holy Land, while staying in France…
The name of the city of Neuvy-St-Sépulchre has a little particularity. In fact, we write sépulchre, not sépulcre without a “h” like in French, because they wanted to emphasize the beauty of the building (pulcher means “beautiful” in Latin)!
A unique rotunda, in France, for a basilica lists to UNESCO World Heritage sites! It has 3 floors and 11 columns with nice capitals (11 columns like the real number of Apostles loyal to Jesus?). Typically Romanesque, those one represent animals (monkeys, archer centaurs, big cats) and little squat characters.
In the middle, until the French Revolution, we found an altar which symbolized the Christ’ grave, destroyed in 1806, a kind of small building with a kind of cave inside (the famous sepulchre), close by an iron gate.
The basilica is made of two parts: the rotunda, then the church itself dedicated to saint Jacques. The famous architect Viollet-le-Duc restored the basilica in the middle of the 19th c.
Neuvy is a stop on the road to Compostela. A very nice stop, since here, pilgrims could pray on a unique relic in France, two blood drops belonging to the Christ: the Precious Blood! And also a piece of the Cross and a nail used for the crucifixion.
The pilgrimage of the Precious Blood takes place every year on Easter, in the streets. But like the book Guide du Val de Loire mystérieux (editions Tchou) says, we don’t know exactly if that blood is the genuine one…
Oh, well, we don’t quibble: facts are here! A man called Eudes de Déols, a cardinal, brought back those blood from Crusade in the middle of the 13th c. A relic preserved from the war of Religion and the French Revolution, fortunately!