18 May 2017

More views of the church in Saint-Aignan

Here's a view of the collegiate church — l'église collégiale — in Saint-Aignan. It's a main feature of the town's "skyline." A collégiale is a church that, hierarchically, stands between a cathrédrale and an église paroissiale (a parish church). Both the cathédrale (presided over by a bishop) and the collégiale are home to a "college of canons" or religious community that holds daily worship services.

The Cadogan Loire guide says that the front tower was a 19th century addition to the much older Romanesque church at Saint-Aignan. It looks to me as if the top section — the belfry, I guess — is much newer than the old structure that it sits on. Just look at the difference in the stone.

Below is a close-in view of the church's old "porch" — the main entrance into the church — which is the street-level part of the tower in the photo above.

Above the front archway of the church tower are engraved the words RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE — LIBERTÉ ÉGALITÉ FRATERNITÉ, as you can see more clearly in the next image. That's the French revolutionary slogan. I've only seen it on one other church building, and that's over in the nearby town of Chémery. Unless memory fails...

The church's other tower, below, is different in style and architecture. It stands above the transept, which is the center of the cross-shaped building's floor plan.

Finally, I'll post this view of the church, taken, like the first photo in this post, from across the Cher River, but a little closer in.

Tomorrow I'll post some photos of less monumental subjects. Saint-Aignan street scenes...


  1. The more you look the more you notice that République Francaise, and or Liberté Egalité Fraternité appears on churchs all over, sometimes painted, sometimes carved. I'd never seen it at all until a year or two ago, and now have seen a good half dozen. I read something recently which suggested that a lot of these signs may have been done in the late 19C, not soon after the Revolution at all, but more connected with the 1905 law to separate church and state. The style of the script fits a later rather than earlier date often, and it may have been a way of hammering home the law, in a period when, conversely, there was a religious revival going on. Certain people may well have felt reminding people that the State, not the Church, owns these buildings, even if their religious function had been reinstated. More research required I think.

    1. In the article on athéisme.org that I link to in a comment below, I see that a church in the town of Sotteville-lès-Rouen (a friend of mine lived there way back when) decided in 1881 to adorn its façade with the Liberté Égalité Fraternité motto. That points toward what you say above. Thanks.

  2. You may have a point with the « cap », since it doesn’t look very old. The top of the tower might have looked like the one over the transept. It shows that sometimes, supposedly learned information (Cadogan’s) must be taken with a grain of salt!

  3. Replies
    1. Very interesting link. It mentions, as you did, the churches at Chémery and Saint-Aignan.

    2. Also churches in Paris and in Montlouis and Orbigny (Indre-et-Loire). The (few) dates given for the "adornment" of churches with "republican" mottoes seem to be in the 1880s or later. I had always assumed they dated from many decades before.

    3. I wonder if the emergence of the "adornments" had any tie-in with the death in 1879 of Napoleon IV and thus the end of the Bonapartists? I don't know the history of that period well enough, but happy to hazard a guess that it might have prompted an outpouring of patriotism expressed in various ways.

  4. More interesting reading -- thanks!

  5. Separation of church and state is a good thing, but trying to convince people of that fact isn't easy. I always love seeing those words- RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE — LIBERTÉ ÉGALITÉ FRATERNITÉ.


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