The Parish Closes

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This is a delightful church that is ignored by the guide books. This is a shame as it is the equal of many on the ‘must see list’.

The Church of Notre-Dame is 16thC. There is a small gateway into the churchyard. The tall tower has an archway underneath it, pinnacles and a small spire. Both have open work. A carved balustrade runs round the base of the spire. The nave is long and low. The east end of the church has small round carvings on the outside beneath the windows and also on the buttress supports.

The massive south porch was built 1585-1601. There is a small dormer window to the west and three larger dormer windows to the east. There is a statue of Mary and Jesus above the archway. There are statues on the side pillars and animal heads underneath. There is a smaller doorway to the east of the porch.

Inside the porch are carvings of the twelve apostles with a carved frieze below. Figures are carved on the pillars below and more on the panels between the pillars. Remains of blue paint can be seen on the robes and red paint under the canopies above them. A carved double doorway leads into the church. On the inside of the doorway are two round pillars with two statues in the arch between them.

Inside it is a massive church with narrow round pillars supporting pointed arches. The wooden ceiling is painted blue with stars. There are highly carved beams across the roof. One has the date 1574. A carved frieze runs along the top of the walls, although quite a bit of this in the aisles is a modern replacement. Here the carving is less elaborate and mostly a simple repeating pattern. The older frieze has heads, oxen with carts, grotesque people lying on their sides, mythical beasts. There are larger carved figures above.

The nave is narrow compared with the side aisles which have a central row of pillars down them. Most pillars have statues or stoups.

There are five massive retables across the east end of the church from north to south they are: • Le Sainte Famile 1674 (Mary, Joseph, Joachim and Anne) • Notre Dame de Bodilis • Le Maitre Autel 1699 • Retable de St Jean Baptiste • Retable de Rosaire (Virgin, St Dominique and St Catherine de Sienna)

The table alters are painted to look like marble. The retables above are painted grey with a lot of gilt. The outer two altars are larger than the inner two. The far altars have four carved pillars with gilt vine leaves and fruit supporting a canopy. The north altar has two eagles, a painted roundel and statues. The south altar has a carving of the baby Jesus with cherubs. Next to it a highly carved door dated 1670 leads into the sacristy.

The middle side altars have a central figure supported by a cherub head and gilt carved panels on the sides. There is a gilt carved arch round the central figure with more cherub heads above and another gilt panel with cross above.

The wall by the middle north altar has a round window with a blind niche below. There is a carving of a saint on the wall, cherubs above the window and gilt boxes on decorative supports.

The high altar has a series of shelves with gilt painted carved panels and cherubs supporting statues. There are five carved choir stalls on each side of the choir and a carved wooden altar rail. A wooden lectern has an eagle holding the book rest.

The wooden carved pulpit has gilt decoration and carved panels with a dove and an angel with trumpet above.

On the north wall is a classical archway with wooden door and a square window above with a carved inscription to one side. There is a crucifix on the south wall. Another crucifix is above the south door with a carving of Mary and another women collecting the body of Christ below it.

The 16thC font has a hexagonal canopy with fluted grey pillars and statues of the apostles above.

Our pictures of Bodilis are here:

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