The artistic details of the church consist of the rudimentary stone carving of the capitals and light reliefs in the flat stone faces of the arches. These are the predecessors of what is to be done later at St.-Benoit. There is also a nice 15C Pieta at the Altar and some wood carved Religious figures and a Music Stand and Song Book of that same period. An attending Brother brought out a 12C reliquary casket for us too see and examine (that is my wife’s hand in the picture). I understand there is now a small museum.
The mosaicfor the Apse dome was probably created in and transported from Ravenna, shows the Ark of the Covenant guarded by two cherubim (with 4 wings) and flanked by two large Archangels plus beautiful foliage. Note that there are no depictions of humans. Theodulf was a vigorous writer of pro-iconoclasstic documents. The Ark is a prefiguration of Christ who cannot be shown. Also note that there is ample light in the apses provided by windows, in three metal sealed tiers, sealed by panes of thin alabaster (plate glass had not yet been perfected).
The little church was created in the 15C by adding a nave and a 19C bell-tower to the west apse of a preexisting Carolingian oratory built in 806 by Theodulf Abbot of Fleury (the monastery at St.-Benoit-sur-Lore which has assumed again its ancient name). He was Charlemagne’s personal adviser and came from Spain. The oratory was modeled after the palatine chapel in Aachen; both were derived from Byzantine sourccs like those in Ravenna. This was a private chapel, part of the Abbot’s villa, 3.5 km from the Abbey in St.-Benoit. The villa was destroyed by raiding Normans in the 9C. The 15C nave now leads into the Greek Cross older chapel. There is a crossing dome that is heavily supported. The arches are rounded but in the Byzantine manner. The main (east) apse is mounted by a blind arcade that once had patterned mosaic decoration.There is primitive carving of the capitals. Above this on the dome is a remarkable mosaic (described separately).