Eglise Saint-Jean Baptiste

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Loubressac is a delightful fortified hill town.

Église St-Jean Baptist is 13thC and is a small rectangular building with a square tower with open bell windows and hipped roof. A round tower on the side gives access to the bell chamber.

Entry is through the west door which has a small tile porch above. The side pillars are intricately carved with scallop shells, a sign of pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela. The tympanum has a small carved crucifix with St John and the Virgin Mary on either side. This was badly damaged in the Wars of Religion in the 16thC. It is just possible to make out the images in the roundels on either side above the pillars of Adam with a fig leaf (right) and Eve being tempted by the serpent (left).

As soon as you enter your eyes are immediately drawn to the chancel apse separated from the nave by an ornate metal altar rail. The altar is covered with gilt and has the Lamb of God on the front. Surrounding it are there massive retables in shades of pink and blue, separated by carved pillars and panels with gilt scrolls. In the centre is a scene of the crucifixion with the two Marys on either side. To the left is a gilt statue of St Roch with another (unidentified) statue on the right. Both are supported by gilt angels and there are more angels standing on the tops of the pillars. Above are roundels, one depicting the baptism of Christ. In the centre is a triangular top piece with cherubs heads and a small round window.

The vaulted chancel ceiling is dark blue with gold stars and roundels with painted heads. The ceiling ribs are painted with a pattern in navy blue, red and yellow.

The nave ceiling is pale blue with a pattern of darker blue stars. Ceiling ribs have carved bases and are also painted in blues yellows and reds as are the underside of the nave arches. The pulpit has carvings of the four evangelists.

There are altars in both transepts. The north altar and retable are painted olive green. The bulbous base has gilt decoration and two Sacre Coeurs pierced by crossed swords. Pillars with gilded grapes support a round portico with a cross on the top. In the centre is a gilt statue of Joseph holding the hand of the young Jesus in a niche with a scallop shell above. There is a small statue of St Francis in a wall niche holding a bible and cross with a skull at his feet.

The altar in the south transept is similar but has a M monogram on the base and a gilt statue of the Virgin holding a crowned baby Jesus. At the back of the south aisle is a small chapel with a small font and slab alter painted to resemble dark marble. Above is a simple retable with a painting of two angels praying with cherub heads above and also a small font. This has a beautiful blue ceiling with blue stars and ceiling ribs painted in shades of blue and green.

The chapel at the back of the north aisle just has a crucifix on the wall with statues of St Theresa and Joan of Arc.

There are two old stone stoups on either side of the west door, another font and a statue of St Antoine de Padoue.

This is a delightful church in a very pretty village. It does get very busy with day trips so is best to aim to be there first thing in the morning or late afternoon to mis the crowds.

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