The Church

THE CHURCH

  • risoul-village-eglise-546

Saint Lucie church


In 1118 an official proclamation from Pope Gelasius II indicates that a dedicated church exists, allegedly at St Martin de Tours.
The Saint Lucie Church has a number of remains from an original building dating from the 13th and 14th centuries.
 
The Romanesque door, next to the Bell Tower, with Gothic inscriptions on the top, later hidden by a  vaulted porch, was moved in 1876. Scallop shells carved in stone.
The choir on the left with carved capitals, the keystone depicting the Passover lamb, the cupboard for the Holy Oils.  The adjoining apsidal chapel, a later addition, which was probably the first sacristy.
 
The Romanesque-Lombard style from the end of the 15th century, even in spite of many unplanned renovations, has given the church its current appearance of elegant, well-balanced simplicity  : the choir, the walls of the nave, the bell tower with the apsidal chapel at the bottom, the façade without the Romanesque gate, the extension of the porch re-using the original columns, the beams of the gallery which bear traces of the later addition of a  large porte-cochère.

The church was totally renovated from 1984 to 1992. The side chapels , bricked up in 1908, were restored to the church in 1992. The side nave had been separated off  to serve as an assembly room.

Sainte Lucie was a Sicilian martyr, blinded by the tyrant Pascasius of Syracuse, who died in 304. She is traditionally represented holding the palm branch rewarded to champions of the games in one hand and her eyes, the sign of her martyrdom, in the other hand. Her feast day is the 13th December and was formerly the 25th December.
Her name, which comes from the Latin lux meaning light, seems to show that she was destined to obstruct the Pagan feast of the light before the 25th December became the birth day of Jesus.

The Bell Tower, 32 m high, meticulously constructed in local pink marble, with the spire in tufa which is very resistant to bad weather, is topped by a cross dominating a globe, the world. It has 4 bells dating respectively from 1802-1846-1777-1857. The roof, which was formerly covered with roof shingles of large local slates, was recovered in slate in 1989.

The Vaulted Roof (1830) : the nave did not originally have a vaulted ceiling. An opening for a Rose Window can be seen in the roof. An inferior purlin is hidden in the wall with a formed rafter visible from the outside.
The Portal, moved from its initial position, is semicircular with a double arch moulding framing a simple tympanum; colonnettes frame the door. The jamb is simple with no decoration but the entablature has four hearts on each side (in total eight hearts recalling Christ, the passion of Christ, Sacred Heart, the soul).
 
On one face there are also three shells, two of them are identical but the third is smaller and seems to have been added later on. These shells are signs of gratitude of Pilgrims on the Way of Saint James to Santiago de Compostela. A pilgrimage route followed the river Durance (see also fresco in Eygliers, Saint Jacques Chapel in Prelles)
  
Capitals from the old choir can be dated to different periods. Moreover, they are of differing craftsmanship : plant motifs (acanthus leaves), geometric patterns, endless spirals, symbols of eternity, humans or closer to beasts. The oldest capital, about 14th century?, seems to represent a round figure, framed by two arms : an atlant figure carrying the burden of the world but looking towards the faithful, Christ?
The Porch : resting on  rib vaulting and on three exposed columns, the capitals have different ornaments some are difficult to make out.

One of the pillars has four men’s faces, at first glance identical ; round face, open eyes , covered with a simple headdress. But when you look closer you can see that in fact these faces are grouped in pairs : two young faces with smooth skin, two wrinkled faces with beards that are bigger than the young faces : could this be the different ages of life, in which case there would in fact be four different faces, namely childhood, youth, maturity, old age?
 
Perhaps this is a way of reminding those who walk past the church that they are only passing through life on earth, that the wheel of life turns quickly and that they should make the most of each and every day of their life whilst contemplating death.
In the nave, walnut panelling (17th and 18th century) was restored in 1992. The former cathedra or chair is upside down and serves as a pedestal for the statue of the Virgin (1868). The cathedra from the 16th century and a small statue of Saint Lucie are occasionally presented.

The stained-glass windows (1992), the one of Saint Lucie in the choir dates from 1955. The altar stone comes from the ruined Rua chapel.
loading
Directions to :
05600
RISOUL
GPS coordinates
Latitude : 44.64902
Longitude : 6.63972