Capdenac-le-Haut is one of the old hilltowns in the Lot Valley.
Église St-Jean-Baptiste is a 17thC building on the site of a 13thC church which was badly damaged during the Wars of Religion. It is a plain stone building with a short offset square tower with a witch’s hat roof.
Entry is through the south door which has pillars supporting a portico with triangular top with a small statue of John the Baptist beneath and a stone cross above.
The church is very dark inside as there is only one nave window. It is built in the Romanesque style of architecture with round arches and vaulted ceiling. At the west end is an old stone font and an 18thC organ. There is an old statue of St Agnes on the north wall and big modern paintings on the rest of the walls.
The wall mounted carved wooden pulpit is reached by a flight of stairs. It has carvings of the four evangelists round the base with a carving of Christ on the back wall. Above is a carved canopy topped by the Sacre Coeur.
A niche in the north wall of the nave dated 1599 has a large lidded copper vessel with a small cross on the lid. There is no information about this and we wondered what it was used for.
In a recess on the south wall is a small carving of the flight into Egypt. There is also an ancient stone statue of Mary holding the dead body of Christ. Above the small doorway in the south aisle which leads to the sacristy is a carved wood head of Christ with a crown of thorns.
There is a very ornate high altar covered with gilt carvings. Above is a gilt host box with an elaborate top with a crucifix below a dome topped by a cross. It is surrounded by panels with carved heads above. Behind is a huge retable with a picture of the Crucifixion in a gilt frame. This is surrounded by pillars with carved vines and cherubs. Above are two praying angels with a small picture of a shepherd boy with a lamb. Above this is a carving of God the Father. On either side of the retable are small framed paintings of saints.
On the side walls are two high backed chairs with red velvet cushions and misericords under the seats.
There is another splendid retable above the altar in the south transept. The gilt host box has a scene of the crucifixion surrounded by cherubs. There are carved gilt panels on either side of the host box with more cherub heads. In the central niche above is a gilt statue of the Virgin carrying the Christ Child with a shell above her head and surrounded by more cherubs and scrolls. There is an old wooden reliquary statue of St Joseph, containing a few teeth, on a carved wooden stand in the south transept chapel.
The north transept has a wall mounted slab of stone with a crucifix and tall candlesticks. There is a statue of John the Baptist carrying a cross with a lamb at his feet and a small round fresco on ceiling.
A door off the chancel leads into the small Chapelle St-Géraud. This is lit by a small square window and two open squares into the chancel. This has an old stone slab altar with a very old carving of Christ crucified (minus arms and cross) on wall above. On the rear wall is carving of St Géraud carrying a model of a church.
This is a charming small church which maintains the feel of a Romanesque building. Make sure you find the entry to Chapelle St-Géraud as many visitors miss this.