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Saint-Pierre Abbaye of Moissac

Saint-Pierre Abbaye of Moissac


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Saint-Pierre Abbaye of Moissac is a former Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Moissac, Tarn-et-Garonne in south-western France.

Saint-Pierre Abbaye of Moissac history

According to legend, Moissac Abbey was founded by the Frankish king Clovis, in person the day after a victory over the Visigoths, in 506. The legend states that Clovis had made a vow to erect a monastery with 1,000 monks (in memory of a thousand of his warriors who died in battle) if he triumphed over the Visigoths who had ruled the area for the past century as federati of the Roman Empire.

Historical records however indicate that it was founded by Saint Didier, bishop of Cahors, in the middle of the 7th century. The establishment of the monastery was difficult because of raids by Moors from the south and west and the Norsemen from the north. The abbey was sacked by the Arabs of al-Andalus twice around 732 and was looted in the 9th century by Norman pirates and in the 10th century by Hungarians.

The 11th century was a dramatic time for the abbey. In 1030 the roof collapsed from lack of maintenance, and in 1042 there was a serious fire. Durand de Bredons, bishop of Toulouse, appointed the abbot of Cluny Odilon de Mercœur to bring in a sweeping reform to counter the laxity of the monks in 1047. A new church building was added in 1063 along with significant restoration works.

During the 11th and 12th centuries, the abbey was led by major abbots Dom Hunaud de Gavarret and Dom Ansquitil, who had the doorway and tympanum built. In the 13th century, Raymond de Montpezat, followed by Bertrand de Montaigut, abbots and builders, ruled the abbey. Aymeric de Peyrac, writing his Chronicle in the 15th century in the château of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Grave, describes these times.

Illuminated manuscripts produced in the monastery’s scriptorium were taken to Paris by Jean-Baptiste Colbert in the 17th century and are now in the Bibliothèque Nationale.The 15th century ushered in a new golden age under the rule of abbots Pierre and Antoine de Caraman, whose building programme included in particular the Gothic part of the abbey church.

The 1626 secularization of the abbey caused the Benedictine monks to leave the cloister, which had been a centre of Benedictine life for nearly 1,000 years. They were replaced by Augustinian canons, under commendatory abbots including well-known cardinals such as Mazarin and de Brienne.

In 1793, the French Revolution put an end to monastic life in Moissac. The abbey church of St Pierre is relatively intact and is still an active church, but the outlying buildings have suffered considerably.

In the middle of the 19th century, the laying of a railway track threatened the cloister but it was saved (though the refectory was demolished to facilitate the railway cutting) and listed as a historic monument. Since 1998 the church and cloisters have had international protection as part of a World Heritage Site, “Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France”.

Saint-Pierre Abbaye of Moissac today

Mossaic Abbey or ‘Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Moissac’ is a grand medieval monastery, renowned not just for its Romanesque architecture and treasures, but for its association with the Order of Cluny. Indeed it is one of the churches inscribed by UNESCO as part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela.

Although much of the abbey has been destroyed over time – including during the French Revolution – there is still much to see, including its cloister and chapels along with the abbey church itself as well as its tympanum and living quarters.

Access to the church is free and free all year from 8:30 to 19h. Religious ceremonies (weddings, burials, baptisms, daily masses) are however regularly organized. Guided tours of the abbey (approximately 1h / 1h15) are regularly proposed by the guides of the Heritage Service depending on the season. Do not hesitate to inquire before coming. Permanent and temporary exhibitions are proposed in the cloisters of the cloister.

Getting to Saint-Pierre Abbaye of Moissac

The address of the site is 6 Place Durand de Bredon, 82200 Moissac, France. The town of Moissac is roughly 70 kilometres (1 hour drive) outside of Toulouse and 200 kilometres from Bordeaux (2 hours and 30 minute drive). The former monastery is just on the north bank of the river Tarn.

There is payed parking a minute walk away from the abbey.


Moissac, Abbatial Saint-Pierre

The portal on the south side of the nave at St. Pierre at Moissac is a prototypical Romanesque eschatological portal of the type known as Maestas Domini. The lowest lintel displays a series of foliated motifs and rosettes, while the second register begins the display of the elders of the Apocalypse, seated and carrying musical instruments and chalices. The tympanum shows a fearsome Christ in Majesty, surrounded by the tetramorph, two angels, and two more registers of seated elders. The active, ecstatic poses of the elders contrasts powerfully with the solid, unmoving solemnity of Christ. The three bands of voussoirs are all foliate motifs.

The trumeau below is carved in relief on three sides. The front shows three pairs of lions, one distinctly male and one distinctly female, their bodies crossing diagonally and rhythmically. The right interior of the trumeau has a relief of Jeremiah, while the left has a relief of St. Paul, both of whom seem to balance gracefully on the cusped moldings of the entrance portals. The jamb reliefs on either side of the door are, on the left, Peter, and on the right, Isaiah.

The west wall of the porch shows a cycle of reliefs depicting the parable of Dives and Lazarus above, and the temptation of Avaritia and Luxuria below. The frieze above begins the story of Lazarus and Dives, with the depiction on the right-hand side of the feast of the wealthy man, Dives, seen seated behind a table at the center. To the left is shown Lazarus the beggar, lying prostrate with sores on his legs. An angel hovers above him. He has just died, and his soul is shown at the bosom of Abraham to the left of this scene. The outer figure, holding a scroll, is probably St. Luke, the author of the Lazarus parable. The upper arcade reliefs depict the continuation of the story. The interior scene shows Dives' funeral. The wealthy man is shown on his deathbed, surrounded by hovering demons, two of whom rip his soul from his mouth. The outer relief shows the torment of Dives' soul in Hell. This parable illustrates the sins of pride and avarice. The lower arcade reliefs depict, on the interior, a wrinkled and emaciated woman with serpents at her breasts and a distorted, bloated demon who grabs her arm. These two figures allegorically symbolize the sin of luxuria, or lust. The outer relief, much damaged, depicts a wealthy man weighed down with sacs of money and a demon on his shoulder, and a poor, hunched beggar who approaches the rich man to ask for money. This pairing symbolizes another sin, that of avaritia (avarice).

The east wall of the porch displays scenes from the Infancy of Christ. The narrative begins on the interior lower arcade with the Annunciation, followed by the Visitation on the exterior lower arcade. The second register of the arcade shows the Adoration of the Magi, with the Christ Child and Holy Family contained in the outer arcade, and the three Magi with their gifts on the inner arcade. The star that led the Magi is depicted above the head of the Christ Child. The story continues in the frieze above with, from exterior to interior, the Presentation in the Temple and Purification of the Virgin, the Dream of Joseph and the Flight into Egypt, and the apocryphal story of the Fall of the Egyptian Idols.

St. Pierre at Moissac is also known for the many historiated capitals and figural slab reliefs of its cloister. The cloister reliefs were probably created under the tenure of abbot Anquêtil, who ran the monastery around the turn of the twelfth century. The porch sculptures were probably created in the era after his death under Abbot Roger, around 1120-1125, though this is widely debated. As a whole program, the three cycles of the porch fit together in interesting ways. The Christ in Majesty of the central tympanum illustrates a "present eschatology," which refers to Christ's eternal seat of judgment and power outside of time through the Church. The figure of Christ in Majesty and the surrounding tetramorphs probably drew its composition from Carolingian models, such as at Dufay, which dates from the ninth century. There are also many parallels to Carolingian manuscript illumination. The Incarnation cycle can be seen as a counterpart to Christ in Majesty on the tympanum, a description of his first arrival on earth which alludes to his eternal and continuing presence. The inclusion of the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and the condemnation of the sins of pride, lust and avarice are debated in the overall program. We can see their inclusion in conjunction with the terrifying power of Christ at the Second Coming beware the three great sins of pride, avarice and lust lest you be judged and punished at the end of time. These sins were especially dangerous to the monk, and thus their condemnation in a monastic context is logical. Additionally, the contrast in fates of the two men refers to the notion of judgment and the power of Christ to determine the saved and the damned.

Significance

Bibliography

Alauzier, L. d', "La pierre Constantine et le linteau du porche de l'abbatiale de Moissac," Bulletin de la Société des études littéraires, scientifiques et artistiques du Lot, vol. 105:1, 1984, pp 9-10

Barral Altet, X., "La mosaïque de pavement médiévale de l'église de Moissac," Bulletin de la société nationale des antiquaires de France, 1975, pp 72-73

Cattin, E. Durliat, M., L'abbaye de Moissac, Rennes, 1996

Dixon, S. R., The power of the gate: the sculptured portal of Saint-Pierre, Moissac, Ithaca, 1987

Droste, T., Die Skulpturen con Moissac: Gestalt und Funktion romanischer Bauplastik, München, 1996

Forsyth, I. H., "Narrative at Moissac: Schapiro's legacy," Gesta, vol. 41:1, 2002, pp 71-93

Fraïsse, C., "Le cloître de Moissac: a-t-il un programme?" Cahiers de civilization médiévale, Xe-XIIe siècles, vol. 50:199, 2007, pp 245-270
----, Moissac: histoire d'une abbaye: mille ans de vie bénédictine, Flaujac-Poujols, 2006

Joergensen, B., "La composition du Tympan de Moissac expliquée par une projection panoramique," Cahiers de civilization médiévale, Xe-XIIe siècles, vol. 15:60, 1972, pp 303-308

Klein, P. K., "Topographie, fonctions, et programmes iconographiques des cloîtres: la galerie attenante à l'église," Der mittelalterliche Kreuzgang. Architektur, Funktion und Programm, Ed. Peter Klein, Regensburg, 2004, pp 105-156
----, "Programmes eschatologiques, function et reception historique des portails du XIIe s.: Moissac-Beaulieu-Saint-Denis," Cahier de civilization médiévale, Xe-XIIe siècles, vol. 33:132, 1990, pp 317-349

Kline, R. M. C., The decorated imposts of the Cloister of Moissac, Los Angeles, 1977

Méras, M., L'art roman à Moissac: IXe centenaire de l'abbaye, 1063-1963, 1963?

Mérindol, C. de, "Le cloître de Moissac: Trois enquêtes distributionelles," Académie des Inscriptions et belles-lettre. Comptes-rendus des séances, vol. 4, 2009, pp 1689-1751

Mezoughi, N., "Le tympan de Moissac etudes d'iconographie," Cahiers de Saint-Michel-de-Cuxà, vol. 9, 1978, pp 171-200

Möbius, H., "Französische Bauplastik um 1100. Form und Funktion im geschichtlichen Prozess," Skulptur des Mittelalters. Funktion und Gestalt, Ed. Friedrich Möbius und Ernst Schubert, Weimar, 1987, pp 44-80

Pereira, M. C. C. L., "Syntaxe et place des images dans le cloître de Moissac. L'aporte des méthodes graphiques," Der mittelalterliche Kreuzgang. Architektur, Funktion und Programm, Ed. Peter Klein, Regensburg, 2004, pp212-219

Rutchick, L., "Visual memory and historiated sculpture in the Moissac cloister," Der mittelalterliche Kreuzgang. Architektur, Funktion und Programm, Ed. Peter Klein, Regensburg, 2004, pp 190-211

Schapiro, M., The Romanesque Sculpture of Moissac, New York, 1931

Skubiszewski, P., "Le trumeau et le linteau de Moissac un cas du symbolism médiéval," Cahier archéologiques: fin de l'antiquité et moyen âge, vol. 40, 1992, pp 51-90

Talbot, M. O., "St. Pierre-de-Moissac portal and its Solomonic guardians," Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, vol. 27, 1996, pp 81-98

Tcherikover, A., "The fall of Nebuchadnezzar in Romanesque sculpture, Airvault, Moissac, Bourg-Argental, Foussais," Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, vol. 49:3, 1986, pp 299-300

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Vidal, M., "Le tympan du portail de Moissac," Cahiers de Saint-Michel-de-Cuxà, vol. 2, 1971, pp 89-97
----, "Le portail de Moissac et son rayonnement en Bas-Limousin," Centre international d'études romanes: Revue trimestriel, 1970, pp 64-71
----, "L'art du VIIe au IXe siècle à Moissac," Bulletin de la Société archéologique de Tarn-et-Garonne, vol. 95, 1970, pp 9-18

Voinchet, B., "L'abbatiale Saint-Pierre de Moissac," Monuments historiques de la France, vol. 181, 1992, pp 97-99
----, "Le portail de Moissac," Monuments historiques de la France, vol. 4, 1976, pp 20-25

Yvonnet-Nouviale, V., "A propos de neuf chaiteaux de Saint-Caprais d'Angen: influences croisées, Toulouse et Moissac," Mémoires de la Société archéologique du Midi de la France, vol. 59, 1999, pp 57-71


A gallo-roman site

Thanks to the latest archeological researchs, Moissac is rediscovering its ancient past. No city but several villae, those Roman large farms taking advantage of the fertile plain of the Tarn and of the clay-lime soils of the hills to grow and export wine and other agricultural products. The gallo-romans baths of Saint-Martin, of which the hypocaust (a Roman floor heating system) is exceptionally preserved, bear witness of this activity. Though the land is occupied since the Antiquity, a town appeared only during the medieval times thanks to the significant cultural, political and economic influence of the Abbey Saint-Pierre.


Saint-Pierre Abbaye of Moissac - History

L'abbaye Saint-Pierre de Moissac se caractérise par l'un des plus beaux ensembles architecturaux français avec ses extraordinaires sculptures romanes.
Elle se trouve à Moissac, dans le Tarn-et-Garonne.
La partie la plus ancienne qui subsiste est le clocher-porche de 1120, fortifié vingt ans après et abritant l'un des plus beaux portails romans qui soient.
Les chapiteaux romans du cloître étaient achevés en 1100 sous l'abbé Ansquitil, mais l'ensemble a été repris au XIIIe avec d'autres colonnettes et d'autres arcades en ogive.
Le tympan de la porte sud de l'église Saint-Pierre de Moissac mesure 6,5m sur 4,5m. Réalisé entre 1110 et 1230, il s’inspire de l'Apocalypse de Jean et présente en son centre un Christ en majesté.
Le linteau et les voussures sont ornés de motifs végétaux. Le linteau doit être un vestige romain réemployé.

Le trumeau monolithe est orné d'animaux entrelacés, trois couples de lions et lionnes entrecroisés, placés sur un fond végétal, se superposent sur la face apparente du trumeau les faces latérales représentent saint Paul et le prophète Jérémie.
Quant aux deux personnages des piédroits polylobés d’influence mauresque, ils figurent saint Pierre et le prophète Isaïe.

Les côtés du porche sont aussi sculptés. Les reliefs de droite montrent, sur trois registres : l'Annonciation et la Visitation, l'Adoration des Mages et la Présentation au Temple, la Fuite en Égypte et la Chute des idoles. Le côté opposé illustre la parabole du pauvre Lazare et du mauvais riche, voué aux supplices infernaux réservés aux luxurieux et aux avares, figurant à la partie inférieure.

Le décor des chapiteaux du narthex fait appel à des motifs végétaux ou animaux, tels ces loups et ces louves dont les têtes viennent se confondre, à l'angle, pour enlever un mouton ou un oiseau dans leur gueule. On pénètre dans le narthex dont la voûte repose sur huit puissantes colonnes engagées à grands chapiteaux très stylisés du XIe et XIIe siècle, soutenant la retombée de quatre nervures en croisée d'ogives.

Une inscription permet de dater le cloître très précisément de 1100. Celui-ci est constitué de quatre galeries charpentées dont les arcades retombent sur une série de colonnettes de marbre.
Rythmé par une alternance de colonnettes simples et doubles supportant les arcades de ses quatre galeries, le cloître aux 116 colonnes différentes de Saint-Pierre de Moissac.

Ses chapiteaux historiés, sculptés sur quatre faces, véritables chefs-d'œuvre de la sculpture romane, sont particulièrement renommés pour la richesse des thèmes qu'ils illustrent, Genèse, Enfance du Christ, Miracles de saint Benoît, thèmes floraux ou stylisés, de personnages, de végétaux ou d'animaux, d'inspiration orientale. …Ils sont parmi les plus beaux du sud de la France.

De nombreux modillons hauts perchés sont à noter également


Saint-Pierre Abbaye of Moissac - History

In order to understand what is depicted on the main areas surrounding the portal that leads into the church, let’s break it down into its constituent parts. The term portal refers to a doorway or entry into a building, and Romanesque portals have distinct architectural elements which were oftentimes carved with a variety of ornament and subject matter.

Rosettes on the lintel, south portal, Saint-Pierre, Moissac, c. 1115-30

The trumeau has more than just a decorative function though as it is also supports the horizontal beam of stone above called the lintel. The lintel is decorated with ten rosettes that are bound together by a carved rope and have a repeated floral pattern at both the upper and lower spaces between each rosette. Notice that on both the left and right ends of the lintel, the rope and rosette design is coming from the mouth of a fantastical animal of some sort (image, above)! Details such as these, with imaginative, hybrid animals are a common characteristic in Romanesque art from illuminated manuscripts to sculpture.


Saint-Pierre, Moissac

The church of Ste. Pierre (St. Peter) in Moissac, France, dating from 1115-30, has one of the most impressive and elaborate Romanesque portals of the twelfth century. Carved images occupy the walls of the extended porch leading to the door, the door itself, and even the space over the door.

Pilgrimage routes

The church of Ste. Pierre was on one of the pilgrimage roads through France that led to Santiago de Campostela, in Spain. As it was home to the remains of St. James Major, that Spanish church was one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Western Europe. Ste. Pierre in Moissac was a popular stop for those making the long and arduous journey to Spain.

The parts of a Romanesque portal

Old Testament prophet (Jeremiah or Isaiah?), right side of the trumeau of the south portal of Saint-Pierre, Moissac, c. 1115-30 (photo: Nick Thompson, CC BY-NC 2.0)

In order to understand what is depicted on the main areas surrounding the portal that leads into the church, let’s break it down into its constituent parts. The term portal refers to a doorway or entry into a building, and Romanesque portals have distinct architectural elements which were oftentimes carved with a variety of ornament and subject matter.

In the case of Ste. Pierre, the portal is divided in half vertically by the trumeau, which is decorated on three of its four sides. On the front, the viewer is faced with three pairs of intertwined lions and lionesses who are there to symbolically guard the entry into the sacred space of the church. Such symbolism comes from Early Christian imagery where the doors to Christ’s tomb are often shown with lion’s heads on them. On the east side of the trumeau is a representation of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah (some scholars suggest it is Isaiah), who holds a scroll in his hands. On the west side is a figure identified as St. Paul, from the New Testament.

The placement of these two figures on the sides of the trumeau was no doubt deliberate as they face two other figures on the door jambs (the outer walls of the portal where the doors are attached). Across from St. Paul is a representation of St. Peter, also a New Testament saint (and the namesake of the church), and across from Jeremiah, is the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. The pairing of Old and New Testament figures was common during this period as a means of suggesting the fulfillment of Mosaic law (the law coming Moses) in the new Christian law under Christ.

Rosettes on the lintel, south portal, Saint-Pierre, Moissac, c. 1115-30

The trumeau has more than just a decorative function though as it is also supports the horizontal beam of stone above called the lintel. The lintel is decorated with ten rosettes that are bound together by a carved rope and have a repeated floral pattern at both the upper and lower spaces between each rosette. Notice that on both the left and right ends of the lintel, the rope and rosette design is coming from the mouth of a fantastical animal of some sort (image, above)! Details such as these, with imaginative, hybrid animals are a common characteristic in Romanesque art from illuminated manuscripts to sculpture.

South portal, Saint-Pierre, Moissac, c. 1115-30 (photo: Josep Renalias, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Just above the lintel is the lunette-shaped (semi-circular) tympanum, which has the majority of the sculpted decoration (and this is true in most Romanesque and Gothic portals). In this case, the tympanum is surrounded by three decorative archivolts (arches), which have various foliate patterns carved into the individual blocks of stone, known as the voussoirs, which make them up.

Tympanum from the south portal, Saint-Pierre, Moissac, c. 1115-30 (photo: Nick Thompson, CC BY-NC 2.0)

During the Romanesque and Gothic periods, there were two subjects which were popular for tympanum decoration. One was the subject of the Last Judgment, when Christ sits as judge over those who will be divided into the Saved and the Damned. An example of this can be seen at Autun.

The other oft-represented subject is known as the Maiestas Domini (Christ in Majesty), and here at Moissac we are presented with a very literal depiction of a passage from the Book of Revelation (4:2–7), which reads:

And immediately I was in the Spirit, and behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne…And round the throne were four and twenty seats and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment and they had on their heads crowns of gold…And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto a crystal and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts…And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.

The moment described in this passage, and represented here, is not a narrative in the sense that the Last Judgment is, but it is rather a more esoteric concept of the Second Coming of Christ and the End of Time.

Christ enthroned, Tympanum, south portal, Saint-Pierre, Moissac, c. 1115-30 (photo: Nick Thompson, CC BY-NC 2.0)

In the very center of the composition is the figure of Christ, seated on a throne, with his right hand raised in gesture of blessing. In his left hand he balances a book on his knee, perhaps a reference to the Book of Revelation. His circular halo is inscribed with a cross (known as a cruciform halo), and we can just make out the suggestion of a larger, almond-shaped body halo (called a “mandorla” after the Italian word for almond) just visible as the pointed arch behind Christ’s haloed head.

Immediately to the left and right of the seated figure of Christ are the Evangelical Beasts, three animals and one human figure, who represent the four Evangelists who wrote the New Testament Gospels. Matthew, in the upper left, is represented by the winged man, Mark just below is shown as the lion, Luke on the bottom right is seen as the ox, and John the Evangelist is represented as the eagle. The representation of the four Evangelists as a tetramorph was common in sculpture, painting, and illuminated manuscripts.

Elders, from the south tympanum, Saint Pierre, Moissac, c. 1115-30 (photo: Nick Thompson, CC BY-NC 2.0)

On either side of the Evangelical Beasts are two tall, elegant angels holding scrolls, as well as the twenty-four elders mentioned in the text from Revelations. They are arranged on three levels, two of which are divided by wavy lines, reminding us of the “sea of glass.” Each elder holds a small musical instrument in one hand and a chalice in the other (some of these have broken off over time). Very clearly all of the figures—man and beast—are turned toward the central figure of Christ, who stares serenely out toward the viewer. The twenty-four elders crane their necks and twist their bodies as do the Evangelical beasts. Even the lines of the drapery seem to be directing our attention toward the center.

Tympanum, Chartres Cathedral Tympanum, Chartres Cathedral, c. 1144-55 (photo: Guillaume Piolle, CC BY 3.0)

A brief comparison between the style of the sculptures in this tympanum and that employed on the Early Gothic portal of Chartres Cathedral (above), which is also a Maiestas Domini, clearly illustrates the very lively, almost agitated sense of the figures at Moissac. At Chartres, the twenty-four elders are now the voussoirs in the archivolts and the figure of Christ, seated frontally and surrounded by the mandorla, is flanked by the four evangelical beasts. Here, however, is a sense of clarity and three-dimensionality that is markedly different from the style seen at Moissac.

And as the road weary pilgrims would have approached the portal of the church Saint-Pierre, they were met with spectacular imagery that warned against sin, and reminded them of Christ’s sacrifice and his final coming. The portal at Moissac would have been a veritable feast for the Romanesque viewer’s eyes and souls.


Sommaire

L'abbaye, fondée au VIII e siècle, fut rattachée en 1047 à la puissante abbaye de Cluny et devint, au XII e siècle, le plus éminent centre monastique du sud-ouest de la France. Si l'abbaye et le cloître offrent un exemple remarquable d'association des styles roman et gothique, c'est le tympan du portail sud qui constitue le premier chef-d'œuvre de Moissac. Exécuté dans la première moitié du XII e siècle, il illustre la vision de saint Jean dans le livre de l'Apocalypse de la seconde parousie du Christ.

Le cloître est le second monument remarquable de l'ensemble abbatial du fait de ses 76 chapiteaux de 1100, dont une cinquantaine sont historiés, et de l'harmonie du mélange des chapiteaux et colonnettes datés avec certitude de 1100 avec une architecture gothique de la fin du XIII e siècle.


MOISSAC Abbaye Saint Pierre

L'abbaye Saint-Pierre de Moissac se caractérise par l'un des plus beaux ensembles architecturaux français avec ses extraordinaires sculptures romanes.

Elle se trouve à Moissac, dans le Tarn-et-Garonne.

La partie la plus ancienne qui subsiste est le clocher-porche de 1120, fortifié vingt ans après et abritant l'un des plus beaux portails romans qui soient.

Les chapiteaux romans du cloître étaient achevés en 1100 sous l'abbé Ansquitil, mais l'ensemble a été repris au XIIIe avec d'autres colonnettes et d'autres arcades en ogive.

Le tympan de la porte sud de l'église Saint-Pierre de Moissac mesure 6,5m sur 4,5m. Réalisé entre 1110 et 1230, il s’inspire de l'Apocalypse de Jean et présente en son centre un Christ en majesté.

Le linteau et les voussures sont ornés de motifs végétaux. Le linteau doit être un vestige romain réemployé.

Le trumeau monolithe est orné d'animaux entrelacés, trois couples de lions et lionnes entrecroisés, placés sur un fond végétal, se superposent sur la face apparente du trumeau les faces latérales représentent saint Paul et le prophète Jérémie.

Quant aux deux personnages des piédroits polylobés d’influence mauresque, ils figurent saint Pierre et le prophète Isaïe.

Les côtés du porche sont aussi sculptés. Les reliefs de droite montrent, sur trois registres : l'Annonciation et la Visitation, l'Adoration des Mages et la Présentation au Temple, la Fuite en Égypte et la Chute des idoles. Le côté opposé illustre la parabole du pauvre Lazare et du mauvais riche, voué aux supplices infernaux réservés aux luxurieux et aux avares, figurant à la partie inférieure.

Le décor des chapiteaux du narthex fait appel à des motifs végétaux ou animaux, tels ces loups et ces louves dont les têtes viennent se confondre, à l'angle, pour enlever un mouton ou un oiseau dans leur gueule. On pénètre dans le narthex dont la voûte repose sur huit puissantes colonnes engagées à grands chapiteaux très stylisés du XIe et XIIe siècle, soutenant la retombée de quatre nervures en croisée d'ogives.

Une inscription permet de dater le cloître très précisément de 1100. Celui-ci est constitué de quatre galeries charpentées dont les arcades retombent sur une série de colonnettes de marbre.

Rythmé par une alternance de colonnettes simples et doubles supportant les arcades de ses quatre galeries, le cloître aux 116 colonnes différentes de Saint-Pierre de Moissac.

Ses chapiteaux historiés, sculptés sur quatre faces, véritables chefs-d'œuvre de la sculpture romane, sont particulièrement renommés pour la richesse des thèmes qu'ils illustrent, Genèse, Enfance du Christ, Miracles de saint Benoît, thèmes floraux ou stylisés, de personnages, de végétaux ou d'animaux, d'inspiration orientale. …Ils sont parmi les plus beaux du sud de la France.


South portal, Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Moissac

Moissac Abbey was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Moissac, Tarn-et-Garonne in south-western France. A number of its medieval buildings survive including the abbey church, which has a famous and important Romanesque sculpture around the entrance.

Architectural features of interest include the church's south-west portico, a crenellated structure with sculpture that is a major masterpiece of Romanesque art. This reflected an expansion of image carving both in scope and size, and extended the use of sculpture from the sanctuary to the public exterior.

The tympanum depicts the Apocalypse of the Book of Revelation. Supporting the tympanum, a trumeau features a statue of the Prophet Isaiah, an outstanding example of Romanesque sculpture, comparable to the work at Santo Domingo de Silos.

bbazia di Moissac, dedicata a san Pietro, si trova nel comune di Moissac nel dipartimento del Tarn e Garonna nella regione di Midi-Pirenei sulle rive del Tarn.

Realizzato tra il 1110 e il 1130, il timpano della porta sud della chiesa di San Pietro di Moissac s'ispira all'Apocalisse di Giovanni e presenta nel suo centro un Cristo in Maestà, con i piedi che riposano sul mare di cristallo. Questa figura, comunemente utilizzata per la decorazione dei timpani romanici, è circondata dai simboli dei quattro evangelisti (Marco, Matteo, Luca e Giovanni), mentre i ventiquattro anziani dell'Apocalisse prendono posto nel fondo e sui lati della scena.

La solennità ieratica dei personaggi, il carattere non realistico di alcune posizioni, il trattamento del drappeggio e la mancanza di libertà delle figure rispetto al quadro sono caratteristici delle sculture romaniche. La squisitezza dei rilievi e la dimensione pittoresca di alcuni dettagli accentuano l'incanto e la dimensione spirituale dell'insieme, vero capolavoro dell'arte romanica. L'architrave e gli archi sono decorati con motivi vegetali. L'architrave pone dei problemi, è analoga alla « pietra constantina » del museo di Cahors, probabilmente è una rovina romana riutilizzata.

Il pilastro monolitico è decorato di animali intrecciati, tre coppie di leoni e leonesse intersecate, si vedono sul fondo vegetale, si sovrappongono sulla facciata del pilastro le facce laterali rappresentano San Paolo e il profeta Geremia. Quanto ai due personaggi dei piedritti polilobati d'influenza moresca, raffigurano San Pietro ed il Profeta Isaia. I due apostoli sono probabilmente un'allusione all'annessione di Moissac all'abbazia di Cluny, posta sotto la protezione di San Pietro apostolo e di San Paolo di Tarso.

Sono scolpiti anche i lati del portico. I rilievi di destra mostrano, su tre registri: l'Annunciazione e la Visitazione, l'Adorazione dei magi e la Presentazione al Tempio, la Fuga in Egitto e la Caduta degli idoli. Nella parte opposta viene illustrata la parabola del povero Lazzaro e del cattivo ricco, dedicata ai supplizi infernali riservati ai lussuriosi ed agli avari, che appaiono nella parte inferiore.


Additional information

Access to the church is free and free all year from 8:30 to 19h. Religious ceremonies (weddings, burials, baptisms, daily masses) are however regularly organized.

Warning ! From February 12, 2019, and for an indefinite period due to renovation work, the entrance to the cloister will be through the "Patus" (rue de l'Abbaye).

Access to the cloister is not free: 6,5 € / adult, 4,5 € reduced rate (job seekers, pilgrims, eco-travelers, people with reduced mobility, children from 12 to 18 years old), 1 € child fare from 6 to 12 years old, free under 6 years old. Audioguide supplement or guided tour of 2,5 €

Cloister opening hours: July-September from 10am to 7pm October and April-June from 10h to 12h and from 14h to 18h November-March from 14h to 17h. Closed on December 25th and January 1st.

Guided tours of the abbey (approximately 1h / 1h15) are regularly proposed by the guides of the Heritage Service depending on the season. Do not hesitate to inquire before coming. Permanent and temporary exhibitions are proposed in the cloisters of the cloister.


Watch the video: Moissac France MONACI MINIATURISTI, Abbaye Saint-Pierre (January 2023).

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