April 21, 2016

2479 FRANCE (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté) - The church Sainte-Croix-Notre-Dame in La Charité-sur-Loire - part of Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France (UNESCO WHS)

In 1059, the powerful order of Cluny decided to build a priory in Seyr, an island in the Loire. The priory became the heart around which the town  La Charité-sur-Loire developed. The place was an easy crossing for the river Loire, with the wooden bridge the monks built and it soon became a major stop on the road to Santiago de Compostella, and an important part of the Clunisian network.

The priory was one of the five "eldest daughters" of the mother abbey in Cluny, and reigned over 45 priories, 400 dependencies and obediences in France and elsewhere in Europe. In the 12th century the huge church Notre Dame was the second largest in Christendom after Cluny and more than 200 monks lived in the property, which covered three hectares.

In the 16th century, the Wars of Religion gradually weakened the town. After the cessation of fighting between the Protestants and the Catholics, the King gave four cities to the Protestants to allow them to practice their faith. La Charité was one of them. A seven-day fire in 1559 devastated the nave of the church, half of the houses and most of the town and the priory, but the choir was preserved.

Renovation work was carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries. After the French revolution the monks had to leave and the priory was sold and used by tradesmen and as housing, which helped preserve it. Although the current nave dates from the 17th century, the choir and the transept have retained their elegant 11th and 12th centuries architecture. The church is known for its rich sculptures, especially the remarkable series of capitals and pilasters, as well as two tympanums.

The first, the tympanum of the virgin, is still in its place at the foot of the Sainte Croix clock tower. In 1840, the second, on the subject of the transfiguration, was moved inside the church to preserve it. In 1998 the church has been registered as a world heritage site by UNESCO, as part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France, about which I wrote here. Since 2001, the priory has been one of the biggest restoration sites in Burgundy.

About the stamps
The stamps are parte of the series Utility vehicles and larger scales - Youth Collection, about which I wrote here.

La Charité-sur-Loire - Official website of the city's tourist office

Sender: Epsylon Patatier
Sent from ??? (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté / France), on 05.12.2015 

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