Discovering Sainte-Marie-Madeleine church in Mézières-en-Brenne
The church was in fact the old collegiate founded by Alix of Brabant, lady of Mézières-en-Brenne. Consecrated by bishop of Bourges in July 1339, on Mary-Magdalene’s name day, the church became the necropolis of the family! Alix was Jean III d’Harcourt’s widow, viscount of Châtellerault. She closely frequented the royal Court: after all, she was Mary of Brabant’s niece, king of France Philip the Bold’s wife! So she could ask to the better artists and artisans to decorate her church... But Alix passed away few time after the church’s consecration. They buried her in the choir.
The church’s visit
A belfry and a porch
Look, the façade is pretty unusual, with its belfry and its 3 bell-towers. Don’t forget the sculptures on the western porch (scenes from Mary-Magdalene's life): a decoration unfortunately damaged during war of Religion and French Revolution...
Let’s go inside: immediately, we notice the nice panelled ceiling. On the beams we have the Harcourt’s red and golden blazons and the Brabant’s coat of arms... those one are genuine! They were just restored in the 19th c.
Windows: Harcourt and Brabant, pray for us
Those 14th c. windows are the most beautiful one in the département. They come from a workshop of Rouen (Normandy). • The choir’s windows date back to the 14th c., when Alix founded the church: they represent Mary Magdalene’s apparition on Easter and the Crucifixion. • In the nave, the 14th century’s window represents Jean d’Harcourt praying with his children. • On the lateral walls, we notice those 2 windows: one of them represents one Harcourt son, kneeling, with his armour. He seems to hold something in his hands... a little church! The one his mother founded? Below, Brabant and Harcourt’s blazons, the whole thing framed by birds and flowers. The other windows represents Jeanne of Vierzon, founder of the church of the Cordeliers (Bourges), flanks by saint Ursin, bishop of Bourges. In front we have sainte Solange (Berry’s patron saint) and Alix of Brabant.
The “illegitimate” chapel
The nicest surprise is here... come closer! Here’s the Anjou chapel, with its Renaissance decoration composed of a stony enclosure. This chapel was founded by a side of the Anjou family, called the bâtards du Maine, the “illegitimate from Maine”. Well, illegitimate, maybe, but lords of Mézières since the 15th c.! The chapel was consecrated in 1552. And do you know what? Several lead graves are still hiding in the soil! Windows date back to the half of the 16th c. We can see the Anjou family with their patron saints, their protectors! • Louis of Anjou flanks by his sons and king saint Louis. • Anne de la Trémoille with her daughter, sainte Anne and the Virgin Mary • René of Anjou, his sons and saint René • Antoinette de Chabannes, her daughter and their protector • Nicolas of Anjou, his only son and saint Nicolas (patron saint of Lorraine, we recognize him thanks to the kids in the salting tub) • Gabrielle de Mareuil and her daughters with Gabriel angel.
Don’t miss the stalls with their nice misericords. We had 54 in the beginning: in the 19th c., only 36 left... They were made in 1540, ordered by abbot of Méobecq, Louis de Beaumont-Barzay.