Montmorillon and its mysterious octagon
Historians first thought it was a druidic temple, because of the mysterious little statues (gods?) put up above the portal. But in fact... error!
It was not a temple, but a small sepulchral chapel raised inside the Hospital’s wall (Maison-Dieu).
A hospital founded by Robert du Puy when he came back from the first Crusade in 1107...
The legend says Robert was buried under the octagon, by the way...
The building is still in the middle of the hospital, with its chapel St-Laurent and several religious buildings.
It’s the exact model of the Jerusalem St-Sepulchre: Montmorillon octagon isn’t an exception, chapels of Laon or Metz were raised on the same model.
The octagon has a vaulted crypt, a main chapel with ogives.
Above the portal, we can see Romanesque statues: maybe representation of virtues, or portraits of the Hospital founders? Or Archangel Gabriel and Virgin Mary... We don’t know exactly!
Meanwhile, religious buildings (barn, chapel, and so on) were raised around our octagon in the 12th century. Damaged during war of Religion, the Hospital, belonging in the beginning to Malta Knights, fell to Augustine monks in 1613. In the 17th century, those one altered the octagon.
Because, before that, it had 3 levels: an underground chapel where people were buried, a chapel dedicated to prayers and another one in the upper part. In the past, we found a kind of big lantern at the top of the building.