St-Julien-Chapteuil doesn’t feature in the guide books. There is a some basic information on the French Wikipedia site. The town website is aimed at residents and not tourists. I had seen a google image of the Romanesque church and decided it would be worth a visit. It was.
The town grew up round an 11thC Benedictine Priory built on top of the hill. This is a huge building and dominates the town below. There are good views from the D28 driving south. The old town is clustered round the church with the newer town sprawling across the plain below. It is a large settlement with a large square and a lot of shops and was busy. Signing is not good and there is a one way system through the town. We managed to find somewhere to park and headed up to the church through narrow cobbled streets and steps.
The church is all that remains of the priory. It is a massive building with different roof lines. There are side chapels off the nave, a rounded apse at the east end, a large square tower with a later spire and massive west end. This is built out over arches with a vaulted ceiling, which support it as the ground drops away steeply. Two steep flights of stairs on either side join as a single flight to the big west door. It is a typical Romanesque frontage with round pillars supporting round arches above the doors and windows. This is topped with a portico with open round arches. At the south east corner of the church is a small calvary with the crucified Christ with the two Marys on either side. There are more steps up to the south door.
Inside it is a large and impressive building with big pillars in the nave with carved capitals supporting round arches. Above the west door is a wooden balcony with the organ and a sign on the steps saying no access apart from the organist.
There is an icon just inside the south door.
The transept has a domed ceiling to support the weight of the tower. The central apse at the east end has a new mass altar. There is an old stone font in front of a modern lectern.
Behind it is a splendid high altar. The base is decorated with gilt crosses and the Lamb of God. The shelves of the retable have more gilt decoration. The host box was covered with an embroidered cloth and has an open cupola above with a cross beneath. On either side are blue enamel panels with pink roundels which have angels painted on them. On either side of the panels are gilt barleycorn twist pillars which support a crown. The altar has a beautiful altar cloth with flowers embroidered around insets of gold material which have embroidered images of God, Abbé, angels…each with delicately painted faces.
There is a large wooden lectern is a pelican plucking her breast to feed her three young. The feet are in the shape of wyverns. The bookstand has a carving of David playing a harp surrounded by grapes and ears of wheat.
Two small roundels on the chancel arches have a red background with white flower shaped cross.
The altar in the north chapel has IHS on the base with a cross above. Above is a statue of the Virgin holding the dead body of Christ. There are large religious paintings on the walls. There are statues of St Cecile and the Virgin in niches on the side walls and a confessional on the back wall.
The north transept has a simple stone table with a statue of Joseph with the young Jesus. On the wall opposite is a statue of St Roch, but without a dog.
The south transept has a granite font dated 1639 but of a remarkably modern design. There is a a statue of the Virgin and Child on the wall above a large carved wood cupboard. On the chancel pillar is a statue of St François Regis 1597-1640.
The base of the altar in the south chapel has the Sacre Coeur on a red background with a gilt surround. Above is a statue of Jesus pointing to the Sacre Coeur on his chest and more religious paintings on the walls.
Above the south transept is a small treasury (no access) with ostensoirs, hand reliquaries, staffs of office…
This was a well worthwhile visit.