Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste

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St-Jean-Soleymieux is a nice small town to the north of St-Bonnet-le-Chäteau. It is well maintained and cared for, with a lot of flowers. It has a very elegant Marie and impressive Notary’s house. We parked in the square and headed for the church.

Église saint Jean-Baptiste is 14thC but has an 11thC crypt. It is built on the edge of the cliff and the nave is lower than the massive buttressed stone tower at the west end. A house is built onto the north wall of the tower.

Entry is through the west door which has a series of carved pointed arches supported by pillars with carved capitals. On one of the arches is a carving of a figure holding the coat of arms of the seigneurs of the château du Rousset.

Inside the doorway a flight of steep steps leads down into the nave. This is short and very wide with a supporting pillar on both sides. The big chancel has a simple stone slab altar supported on old carved capitals. There is a host box mounted on a pillar behind it.

At the back of the church is a stone font with a memorial tablet to the dead of World War One. The stained glass windows on the south wall of the nave have a picture of Joseph with the young Jesus and one of the arrival at the in in Bethlehem. On the north wall is a picture of St Theresa and the Adoration of the Magi.

In the north aisle is a beautiful gilt painted statue of the Virgin with the Christ Child who is holding an orb. In the south aisle is a statue of St John the Baptist carrying a cross with a lamb at his feet.

Steps lead down into the crypt of Notre-Dame-sous-Terre. This was the original church which became the crypt when the later church was built above it. There are four central pillars with carved capitals supporting low round arches. At the east end in a tiny apse is a stone altar supported by old pillars with decorative gilt mosaic panels. Above is an integral host box with an old painted statue of the Virgin holding the Christ Child. At the back in a small arch is a statue of Notre-Dame-sous-Terre. This used to be carried in procession until the 1960s.

The ceilings and walls are covered with paintings dating from the early 20thC in shades of blue, gold and pink. The window has a picture of Christ surrounded by angels.

This is another typical small French town ignored by the tourists. This is a pity as it is an attractive town and the church is fascinating.

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