Chapelle du Cheylard

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Chapelle du Cheylard is on a grassy mound off the main street in St Genies. It is a small rectangular Gothic building with heavily buttressed walls and a steep stone roof with a small cross at the west end. The inside is empty and unloved but the walls are covered with 14thC frescoes in shades of reds, yellows and some blue/blacks.

Entry is through the wooden west door. The inside is empty apart from the cobwebs and the remains of a lopsided pulpit in the middle of the nave and a battered wooden altar still with traces of deep blue and gilt paint. The host box had originally been splendid with a Sacre Coeur and sunburst on the front and cherub heads in the portico above. The ceiling is vaulted with decorative bosses at the ends of the ribs. These still have the remains of paint on them. Beneath them are small roundels with a cross. The door and window arches have a pattern of arrow head painted on them.

There are the remains of frescoes on the ceiling but it is difficult to make out details, even on photographs.

Above the door is the figure of Christ with his hand raised in blessing surrounded by apostles. Below are two figures throwing stones. On the left is a fresco of St Luke with a lion at his feet, set inside a Gothic arch. The lion has a glorious golden mane, human face and a halo. On the right is a figure of a monk with a halo monk with both hands raised.

On the south wall is a fresco is St Stephen being pelted with stones. Below are two smaller panels. That on the left is St Catherine surrounded by four wheels. She was a 4thC martyr who sentenced to be tortured on a spiked wheel, but the wheel flew apart and the fragments killed many of her accusers. She was then beheaded. On the right is St George killing the dragon.

On either side of the south window are haloed figures holding swords.

The north wall has St Michael weighing souls in a balance with angels watching. There is also a fresco of St Peter holding the keys of Heaven.

On the east wall is a haloed figure with the hand of God reaching down to him. On the other side of the window is a scene of the baptism of Christ with John the Baptist pouring water from an urn over the haloed figure of Christ who has a dove above his head.

It wasn’t until we looked at the photographs after wards on the computer that we realised just how much detail there still is on the frescoes.

If you enjoy frescoes, this place is a must. It is open 9-7 daily and entry is free.

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