The churches in Louron

The Louron Valley has the particularity of having many Romanesque churches, whose monumental paintings of the sixteenth century were miraculously preserved. Indeed, the isolation of its territory has protected the valley from the degrades committed during the Wars of Religion and the French Revolution on most churches in the Pyrenean foothills.

Saint Calixte Church of Cazaux Frechet
St. Bartholomew's Church Saint-Mercurial
Church of Saint Mercurial of Vielle-Louron
Church of St. Felix Armenteule
Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Bareilles
Church of the Invention-of-Saint-Etienne of Germ-Louron
Church of Saint Mary Magdalene of Loudervielle

The Romanesque church of Saint-Mercurial in Vielle-Louron, classified a historical monument since 1979, houses the relics of the saint of the same name, knight martyred at the beginning of the 11th century. A legend reports that he accompanied the king of Aragon Sanche Abarca in his fight against the "infidels". While trying to repress the onslaught of the Moors, Saint Mercurial was massacred in Vielle-Louron.

The architecture of this building has the sobriety and the characteristics of the Romanesque churches. The only imposing element, its bell-tower that dominates the whole. The tympanum of the church portal is decorated with a chrism (monogram of Christ) as we see in most churches in the Louron Valley and the rest of the Pyrenees, mainly Western (French side as the Spanish side).

It is necessary to penetrate inside the church to admire the beauty of its murals which decorate the nave, the choir and the sacristy. They were made at the end of the 16th century but still retain a very medieval style. It is a program of four monumental paintings, among which are the life of Christ and the legend of Saint Mercurial. The cul-de-four of the northern absidiole, converted into a sacristy, has also been painted with a remarkable Last Judgment, one of the major themes of medieval iconography.

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