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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.
Written Apr 17, 2008