Eglise de Saint-Parthem

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Saint-Parthem is a pretty, well kept small village of dark volcanic stone or plaster covered houses with some timber frame, particularly on the back. It has now lost all its services. There are no shops and the restaurant was shut and for sale.

Off the main street is a free standing bread oven which was given by the Seigneur in the Middle Ages and had to be used by the villagers. There was a timetable and different things were cooked on different days.

There is a track down to the river. This had been an important port and there is the remains of masonry from the quay. The land along the valley is very fertile and there are small market gardens and orchards of walnut trees.

As usual, we headed to the church. This is a small plaster covered building with a stone roof and a variety of roof lines. There is a small squat square tower at the west end with open bell windows and a pyramid roof. The nave is tall and narrow with lower side aisles and a small bell cote at the east end. There is a rounded apse at the east end with a sacristy off.

Outside the church is a painted iron crucifix with Christ on the cross. Below is a scene removing his body for burial.

Entry is through the west door which is dated 1561 and is set in an elaborate portico with a carving of an anchor above. Inside at the back, massive arches support the weight of the bell tower. There is a small gallery above. An old font is now used to hold flowers, and there is a memorial to the dead of World War One with 25 names.

The nave is very simple with round arches in the walls separating nave and side aisles. On the walls are small framed prints of the Stations of the Cross. There are painted statues of St Foy, St Catherine, Notre-Dame de Lourdes, St Antoine de Paduoe, St Theresa and a crowned Christ.

There is a simple, modern stone altar in the chancel apse. The stained glass windows have pictures of saints. On the back wall is a small wooden crucifix and a large poster celebrating “Collecte Nationale Novembre 11”. This looked and felt out of place.

The south transept has a big stone altar with feet and a M monogram on the base. The covered host box has a small statue of the Virgin and Child. Above is painting of Mary with Jesus presenting rosaries to St Dominic and Ste Catherine de Sienna.

The north transept has large wrought iron gates in front of the the altar. This has a carved base with feet and palm leaves on either side of the Sacre Coeur. The two locked reliquary boxes contain bones of St Arthem and St Ugan, whose busts are on the transept pillars. There is a small stone statue of Notre-Dame de Lourdes on the altar and Joseph and the young Jesus on the host box. Above is a large painting of God the Father looking down from Heaven with doves and the Sacre Coeur surrounded by a crown of thorns with two figures below.

Above the door into the sacristy in the north wall of the chancel, is a painting of the Flight into Egypt. The picture above the south chapel altar has the Sacre Coeur with a crown of thorns in the centre with St Peter, St Roche, St Anthony with a pig and an unidentified monk with a book and a lily.

The treasury in the chancel has a communion plate and cup and a beautiful 15/16thc processional cross with a crucifix set with semi-precious stones which was made by the same workshop as the cross at Cassaniouze.

All in all, it was rather a strange church. The best bit was the statues.

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