Moissac Travel Guide

  • Moissac
    by pfsmalo
  • Moissac
    by pfsmalo
  • Moissac
    by pfsmalo

Moissac Things to Do

  • Examine the Profuse South Porch Portal...

    The portal of the Porch displays a simple carved band arch set between two thin round ribs and secured by rows of voussoir blocks, The stones run down to block supports and the ribs to colonettes topped by simple small capitals. Lateral to this a thick column runs up to bases which support statues of the founding saint-monks. The stones of the...

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  • Enter the Church

    The Abbey Church of St.-Pierre was demolished by the English in the 110 Years War but luckily the cloister was ignored. It was rebuilt in the 15C in Gothic style, reutilizing some Romanesque walls and the Narthex up to the bell-tower. The entrance from the Narthex preserves the Romanesque polylobed arch and colonettes. From a side door in the nave,...

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  • Examine the Narthex Closely

    The Narthex is built with heavy ogival vaulting. Like the cloister, its support columns have decorated 11-12C capitals. The entire narthex looks cleaned and possible a little restored. The capitals show the progress of sculptural technic. The earliest are acanthus forms. Next they become floral. Then small animal figures appear peering out from the...

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  • South Porch: Examine the Wall Friezes

    The friezes at the top of the East and West walls of the South Porch are respectively related to the 4 carved panels below them. On the West wall the story of Dives, the rich man, begins with him at table and in an inset to the left below poor Lazarus dying of starvation, while an Angel above him is taking his soul off to Heaven. This is portrayed...

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  • Porch W. Wall: Punishment of Avarice &...

    The west side wall of the Porch deals with sins of avarice and unchastity. The parable (Luke: 16: 19-31) starts at the inner (right) end of the frieze at the top with the story of Dives, the rich man, who ignores Lazarus the beggar. (This scene is covered in a Tip on the friezes).In the four part panel below starting on the upper right is the Death...

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  • Porch East Wall: Jesus' Early Life

    The story on the east wall of the porch starts at the lower level on the left (inner) side with the Annunciation to Mary. To the right is the Meeting of the pregnant Mary and Elizabeth. The two carvings on the upper level show the three Magi at the left, approaching the Holy Family: Mary and Jesus with Joseph at the very right. The story continues...

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  • Study the Upper Part of the Porch

    The Upper Porch is crenellated like a fortress (and may have served as such). High up are two small statues: St. Benedict (left) the founder of the Cluniacs and Roger (Bishop and Abbot here 1115-31). Higher up at the edge, Gabriel sounds his horn. Along the coping are brackets covered by curious modillions. This conceit will be seen everywhere that...

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  • The Trumeau Has Full Sized Romanesque...

    The trumeau is a large marble block with 4 treated sides and scalloping to blend wth the inner jambs (but with 5 rather than 4 curves). (It is probably of later origin as its style suggests, but was written about as old in the 14C). On the southward face are 3 pairs of lions, one of each sex, with the female to the front standing on the haunches of...

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  • Study the Portal to the Narthex Inside...

    Below the tympanum is the entrance to the Narthex from the Porch. The treatment is another first in church art. It shows a scalloped doorway treatment (four curves laterally and 5 centrally). At the center is a carved trumeau made from a single block (covered is a Separate Tip). On the jambs stand two deeply carved bas-relief, full figures: at the...

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  • See the Carved Tympanum Under the South...

    The tympanum is probably the first monument of this type ever created (finished before 1115). It is composed of 28 carved limestone blocks, snugly arranged. The whole tympanum measures 5 m in width and 0.68m in height. The blocks rest on a sturdy carved lintel, a long horizontal rectangular block, which in turn is supported by cusped door posts and...

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  • First Look at the Whole Abbey Church

    The Abbey of Moissac and its church, St. Pierre (Peter), were built , starting with a cloister on the North side completed by 1100. The purpose was to serve as a safe resting point beyond Toulouse for pilgrims on the “Southern” Road to Compostela. The belfry porch was finished by 1115 and the church by 1130. As part of the fabric an extensive...

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  • Admire the Cloister Bas-Reliefs

    There are piers at the four corners of the cloister. On the two gallery faces of each pier is a large slab of stone bearing a bas-relief carving of 7 of the Apostles and Paul. They are almost full height and all have different attitudes and features and subtle variations of stance as relates to the viewer. Although these are archaic types, they...

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  • hquittner's Profile Photo
    Abbot Durand de Brehan 1 more image

    by hquittner Written Apr 17, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: The Benedictine Cluniac "think-tank" was devoutly concerned with bigger and better church business. Capitalizing on the waning fears of an impending Apocalypse (1000AD), they exploited a rise in safety and growing individual recognition of freedom among the common people by developing a well-equipped church-based travel business based upon penitence and absolution (pilgrimage) which released a suppressed human desire to travel. They had already developed strong religious influences over the royalty of Southern France and Northern Spain, so they set about building monasteries and churches to shelter the pilgrims on a well propagandized "Way of St. James".( In 1139 a monk, Aimery Picaud created a series of 5 volumes on the pilgrimage, including a guide-book that he had personally travelled!). The first experimental Abbey and church were planned for Moissac. Abbot (and Bishop of Toulouse) Durand de Brehan was dispatched from Cluny in 1048 to undertake the project (and also build St. Sernin at Toulouse). He died (1072) during the early phases but he is commemorated by a full-length bas-relief in the East gallery of the cloister on the central pier. Realize that this is the first sculptural "portrait " in Modern Art! This and the other artistic breakthroughs were so successful that the Cluniacs quickly repeated them wherever they built, a heavy contribution to the Renaissance. On the opposite side of the cloister (West) you can see St. Simon facing the central garden from a central pier. On its gallery side is a dedication to Durand and the cloister.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Seniors

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