Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Limoux Day 1

Today Antoine picked us up in Carcassonne for the last time and took us to Mirepoix to see the weekly market and then drive us on to Limoux.

At the heart of Mirepoix is one of the finest surviving arcaded market squares - Les Couverts- in France. The square is bordered by houses dating from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries painted in pastel shades, admire the woodwork involved in these houses, some have fascinating detail.

The mediaeval Maison des Consuls (council house) has rafter-ends carved with dozens of images of animals and monsters, and caricatures of mediaeval professions and social groups.

On the square is the cathedral of St-Maurice it has the second widest Gothic arch in Europe (after Gerona in Spain). The foundation stone was laid by Jean de Lévis on the 6th May 1298. Construction continued, with interruptions, over the next six centuries. The cathedral was restored in 1858 and 1859 by Prosper Mérimée, and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The labyrinth in the crypt is no longer open to visitors – only a wall plaque notes its presence, however look on the floor for labyrinth tiles.

The Chapel Saint Virgin

Chapel of Saint Anne

Chapel of Notre Dame De Lourdes 

Once we were in Limoux we walked into the city centre to have some lunch, and on a Monday here everything is closed. So we found something to eat and walked along the river had an icecream and then went into the Church of St. Martin which dates from the xii th  century but has undergone over the centuries, significant transformations. The porch and the nave are Romanesque, Gothic bell tower ( xvi th  century) was built on the old Romanesque square tower ( xi th  century), the canopy carved ( xviii th  century) and modern stained glass windows give it a Special cachet. The restoration of the 

Organs dates back to 1994. The renovation of the facade was made possible in 1993 thanks to the operation "Toques et Clochers" thanks to the auction of Chardonnay barrels held every year for the weekend Palm by Cave du Sieur d'Arques.

Limoux has very grand churches. St Martin’s church already existed in 982, and in 1263 the nuns of Prouilhe undertook to have it enlarged. When the fortified bridge was built in XIVth century new areas of the church were built, and it was renovated at the end of the XIXth century. 

High on each side wall of the nave (which is 75m long) there are seven Star of David windows, perhaps reminiscent of a Jewish community in the south of France long ago. 

The Chapel of Sainte Lucie

The Chapel of the Virgin

The most intriguing windows are at the end of the nave, where one set of three tall windows tell a story about women.

The middle window shows Jesus and Mary Magdalene crowned and dressed identically, sitting on thrones. Beneath them there are many women with halos, gathering together. The side windows are also populated by women with halos, spiritually advanced women, initiates, wise women. The only men who appear are huddled together whispering, attacking the women, either with spear or with fire. Could this be a story about women being demoted from the equal position in which Jesus recognised them? It ties in well with one legend, of Mary Magdalene and her friends coming to the south of France from Jerusalem, and teaching the same teachings as Jesus. These were not acceptable to the male hierarchy of the church, so over the centuries the heresies that have arisen in this region were fiercely eliminated … for example the Cathars. The Inquisition helped to eliminate any wrong thinking amongst the population. However today many people here in the Languedoc still identify themselves as Cathars. And these curious and hopeful signs and symbols still exist in their churches. 

The Chapel of Sainte Germaine

The Chapel of Sainte Francois Xavier

Chapel of Sainte Catherine D’Älexandrie

Chapel of Notre Dame de Sept Douleurs

Chapel of Sainte Anne

No comments: