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The portal of Sainte-Croix church in Bordeaux: crab, lust and avarice

Portal, lust | BlR33 / CC-BY-SA
Abbot church Sainte-Croix church in Bordeaux

The church (dedicated to the Sainte-Croix, "Holy-Cross") was part of the old abbey founded by Benedictine monks on a small stream.

There, they translated saint Momolin’s relics, first or second abbot of Fleury (current Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire), in 653.

Our church was raised in 650, on the foundations of an old pagan temple. Destroyed in 729 by Saracens, restored by Charlemagne in 778... the current church was reraised by Guillaume the Good, duke of Aquitaine, in 902.

The Romanesque church was restored by Paul Abadie in the 19th century: he added the left bell-tower but also little funny details on the façade, like this crab with a bishop mitre!

Oh, look, on the façade, too: scenes considered like "pagan coarseness", with a man and a woman surround by 2 snakes: the representation of lust!

She wears a long dress and shows her breast. The snakes gets up on her body... and bites her bosom! We don't know what the man on the right is doing... maybe he punishes her for her sins?

Another scene: we can see groups of 2 people. One of them seems to open his shirt; he’s holding a purse around his neck. Near his head, a kind of plate. A grimacing man wants to steal his purse!

Maybe a representation of avarice? After all, scenes of sinners and infernal punishments were very commons on Romanesque churches' façades, at a time where people were illiterate. Those carved scenes told them about Hell...

Above those sculptures, you maybe notice this great rider, this equestrian statue of a king in armour, defeating his enemy!

We think it was a representation of king Pépin the Short, Charlemagne, or... an English king! This one is a copy, the original was destroyed during the Revolution.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!