Eglise Notre-Dame de Montcuq

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Eglise Notre-Dame de Montcuq is built on top of a hill at the other end of the town to the Castrum. It is all that is left of a 9thC Benedictine Monastery. The choir is 13thC and the rest was rebuilt in the 15thC, having been badly damaged in the Hundred Years War , using the existing masonry. The church has been recently restored when 16-18thC wall paintings were discovered.

It has a very tall nave with chancel apse and buttressed walls. The square tower with a pyramid roof is built above a big porch with pointed arches and big corner buttresses. The porch ceiling was originally vaulted but this has been replaced by a new wooden beam ceiling. The west door has a twisted rope arch above it. On either side are the remains of a base and pinnacle which would have held a statue.

Inside there is a small vestibule with three doors into the church. Across the back is a dark wood balcony on stone pillars with the date 1823 carved on one. There is a huge nave leading to the chancel. Large protruding side pillars have pointed arches. On them are smaller pillars painted to resemble red marble which continue up to form the ribs of the barrel ceiling.

Between the arches are murals. The four at the back of the church have paintings of Moses, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham about to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The next four pillars have representations of the four pillars of faith; Religion, Charity, Hope and Faith. The four nearest the chancel have images of the four Fathers of the Church; Ambrose, jerome, Augustus and Gregory.

Between the arches on the north wall and one on the south wall have more murals. On the north wall is Frances de Salles under a portico supported by pillars. He was a Bishop of Geneva and noted for his deep faith and gentle manner. Next to this is a scene of St Peter preaching (la prédication de St-Pierre) set in a portico supported by barleycorn twisted pillars.

The mural on the south wall is in poor condition and difficult to see. It is described as the Liberation of St Peter. There are also murals on the west wall but they are very fragmentary and it is impossible to make out details.

In the chancel are frescoes of the four apostles with their symbols. A white curtain hangs on the east end. In front of it is a wooden cross with the gilt figure of Christ. On either side are wall paintings of an angel with a censer. Beyond are the remains of the panels of the reredos. These have a pink background with grey garlands of flowers with musical instruments.

A ruched curtain round the bottom of the chancel extends into the chapels on either side, partially obscuring their altars and reredos. which have a central oil painting and carved panels.

At the back of the north wall is a small chapel with metal doors which contains a stone font. This has a wooden cover with a statue of the Virgin with children round her.

This is a very interesting church. The murals are unexpected and different to those seen elsewhere. It repays visiting.

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