Romanesque churches in Saint Bertrand de Comminges

romanesque churches

Romanesque churches are ubiquitous in the Pyrenees. Here a few pictures from Saint Bertrand de Comminges a bit further from the Ariège in the piedmont.

Romanesque churches in Saint Bertrand de Comminges

romanesque churches

Two Romanesque churches for the price of one

There are two main Romanesque churches in Saint Bertrand de Comminges. Here’s the main one seen from Saint-Just de Valcabrère (the old mediaeval church). As the tourist office states, Romanesque churches also include some gothic elements.

The ancient city, then home to the exile of Herod Antipas [Yes! The Herod of the New Testament who was exiled to Gaul], was founded in the first century BC by a Roman general. A few centuries later, three bishops of Comminges gave Saint-Bertrand the glory that made it famous. […]

The great city of the Western Roman Empire and the radiant bishopric of the Middle Ages still have a remarkable archaeological and architectural heritage and a lot of mysteries. At the foot of the imposing cathedral, which looks like a castle, are the ruins of the Roman forum and ancient theatre and the early Christian church.

Close to Saint-Bertrand, the peaceful Saint-Just de Valcabrère basilica [picture per below] is nestling in a Tuscan-like setting.

Everywhere here, Romanesque and Gothic, sacred and secular, contemporary art and classical culture coexist harmoniously.

The tourist office of Saint Bertrand de Comminges

romanesque churches
Saint-Just de Valcabrère on a grey day after the heatwave.

romanesque churches

It’s not just about Romanesque and gothic architecture. Builders of the mediaeval period often took architectural artefacts from ancient Roman buildings to incorporate them in the walls of their churches (St-Just per below)


Why so many churches of that period over there?

As to why there are so many Romanesque churches in the Pyrenees, there must be an explanation. Claude Sigrand from offers one:

Why, in the year 1000, did the French cover their country with a ‘white coat of churches’, according to the famous phrase of the monk Raoul Glaber? […]

One could define Romanesque art as a struggle against the light in order to provide recollection and serenity. At least that is the impression it gives, especially in small buildings. This is probably why it is so well suited to the south. […] It is also why there are no Gothic churches in the south. Or rather, this is why southern Gothic art filters the light so well.

[…] However, with the Second Romanesque Age, the clergy decided to enlarge their buildings. In particular to cope with the influx of pilgrims on the roads to Santiago de Compostela. […]

Romanesque architecture extends from the beginning of the tenth century to the second half of the twelfth century. It has its roots in pre-Romanesque art, particularly Carolingian. […]

One of these days I’ll scan an old picture I made of the Abbey of Sénanque with my vintage Canon AE1 40 years ago.

My old and faithful iMac died on me yesterday 😢I will have to wait until its replacement makes its way to my place of abode.

Yann Gourvennec
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