Eglise Sainte-Fauste

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This is built on a dramatic setting on a promontory above a 300’ meander in the Dourdou river. I spent six years in Durham and always thought Durham Cathedral must have the best site in the world. I was wrong…. this knocks spots off Durham.

There is on road parking at the neck of the peninsula at the start of Trou de Bozouls and a small car park a bit further on. We walked along the single street to Église St Fauste past the old stone or plaster covered houses.

The church is 12thC. The south aisle was added in the 14/15thC to support the nave as the walls were beginning to bulge outwards. Additional external buttresses were added to the east end in the 17thC, as was the massive arch in front of west door. The church was in use until 1964.

Entry is through the west door under the square tower belfry which has open arched bell windows and a pointed witch’s hat roof. Wooden doors lead into the porch which has a vaulted ceiling and round pillars with figures carved at top.

The nave has massive red sandstone pillars with carved capitals supporting the round topped arches. It is empty apart from old benches round the walls. On the the north wall is a large old painting in poor condition of a woman with two children kneeling in front of her. There are statues of St Foy, St Joseph, Joan of Arc and a more modern statue of the Virgin. There is a memorial stone to ‘Nos Enfants Morts pour La France’ with 35 names which must have been devastating in a small village like this.

At the back of the north wall is very old carving described as the ‘Vision of St Antoine de Padoue’. The Virgin is showing the Christ Child to St Antoine with two cherubs looking down against a background of pillars and round arches.

The beautifully carved wooden pulpit is mounted on a carved wood pedestal. It has a carved back board and square carved canopy above with a cross on the top.

The south aisle has a series of small chapels with altars. The altar at the back of the church is separated from the nave by tall iron railings. The altar base has a roundel with the Sacre Coeur on a royal blue background. Above is a very ornate carved retable of pale blue and gilt with a gilt host box with a crucifix above. Gold fluted columns support an arch with God the Father above on a deep blue background. Below is a gold Mary holding Jesus and surrounded by 16 gold medallions with Biblical scenes. At the bottom are gilt figures of a woman and a monk holding a palm branch.

The centre chapel has a red marble altar with a star burst on a white marble background. Behind is a pale blue retable with a host box inset with red marble. Above is a large picture of a praying figure in a gilt and grey frame with a painted portico above.

The third chapel has a marble box altar with a painting above framed with carved pillars which have green and gilt grapes twining up them and paintings of fruit. Above is a round arch with a dove on a blue background.

The wooden altar in the south transept is painted to look like marble and has a roundel on the base with the head of Jesus. The carved retable has a painted statue of Christ set in an elaborate grey and gilt frame with sunbursts at the corners.

The chancel is separated from the nave by a wooden altar rail with carved pillars. Steps lead up to the high altar with white claw feet and a roundel of the Lamb of God. The host box door has a pelican plucking her breast with three young at her feet. Above is a large crucifix. The three round topped stained glass windows are separated by round pillars with carved capitals and have images of Christ and two female saints.

Round pillars with round arches and carved capitals separate the chancel from the narrow ambulatory. Stained glass windows in the small apses off the ambulatory have pictures of St Paul, St Joseph and the young Jesus in centre and St Peter as an old man holding the keys of Heaven.

There is a curtained off chapel on the south side of the ambulatory which has a wooden altar with a sunburst on the base. The retable has a framed picture of an angel holding the hand of a child. There are two old gravestones in the floor.

This is a delightful church set on an amazing site. It is very well worth searching out.

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