Church of Sainte-Radegonde (Poitiers)

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Church of St. Radegund
Église Sainte-Radegonde
Poitiers - Eglise Sainte-Radegonde 1.jpg
Church of St. Radegund
46°34′47″N 0°21′07″E / 46.5798°N 0.3519°E / 46.5798; 0.3519Coordinates: 46°34′47″N 0°21′07″E / 46.5798°N 0.3519°E / 46.5798; 0.3519
Country France
Denomination Catholic Church
History
Former name(s) Chapel of St. Mary outside the Walls
Founded 550s
Founder(s) St. Radegund
Dedication Mary, mother of Jesus (till 587), St. Radegund (587-)
Dedicated 1099
Cult(s) present St. Radegund
Relics held St. Radegund
Architecture
Status Parish church
Functional status active
Heritage designation Monument historique
Designated 1862
Architectural type Collegiate church
Style Romanesque & Angevin Gothic
Completed 12th century
Administration
Archdiocese Poitiers
Clergy
Archbishop The Most Rev. Pascal Wintzer
Pastor(s) The Rev. Frédéric Dacquet[1]

The Church of St. Radegund (French: Radegonde) is a medieval Roman Catholic church in Poitiers, France, dating from the 6th century. It takes its name from the Frankish queen and nun, Radegund, who was buried in the church. Considered a saint, the church became a place of pilgrimage by those devoted to her heavenly intercession. The current church, constructed from the 11th to 12th centuries, was built in a combination of Romanesque and Angevin Gothic architectural styles.

History[edit]

The church was established as a mortuary chapel in the 6th century to hold the remains of the nuns of St. Mary Abbey, later the Abbey of the Holy Cross, which had been founded in Poitiers by Radegund in 552 as the first monastery for women in the Frankish Empire. Due to its function, the chapel was built outside the city walls, which gave it its initial name, the Church of St. Mary outside the Walls (French: Sainte-Marie-hors-les-murs). Upon Radegund's death and subsequent burial there in 587, however, the chapel was renamed to be placed under her patronage.

Gargoyle in the form of a female demon

The remains of the saintly foundress were exhumed by order of Abbess Béliarde in 1012 for public veneration, and the entire church was rebuilt after a major fire in 1083. The reconstruction expanded the structure, including both a chevet and the foundations of a bell tower when it was dedicated in 1099. By this time, the chapel had become both a parish and collegiate church, staffed by a community of canons whose prior was appointed by the abbess.

Description[edit]

The church is built in the shape of a Latin cross. This was a style which became popular in the 11th century, particularly for pilgrimage shrines. It consists of a central nave with radiating chapels. This allowed for both private space for prayer by the clergy of the church and open space for the pilgrims visiting it.

Organ[edit]

The church has had a series of organs since the Middle Ages. After the devastation of the church during the French Revolution, it was not until 1894 that an organ was again installed in the church. Though it survived damage caused by bombardment during World War II, this organ was irreparably damaged by poorly done renovations in 1991. It was replaced in 1997 by an entirely new organ.

Windows[edit]

A series of 16 stained glass windows partially dating from the 13th century recounts the life of Radegund. They were restored in the 19th century.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Paroisse Sainte-Radegonde en Poitou". Diocèse de Poitiers (in French). Retrieved 14 September 2014. 

Sources[edit]