Abbey Church of Sainte-Marie, Souillac, Dordogne
The abbey church of Sainte-Marie in Souillac in the Dordogne region of France has its origins with the Benedictine monks of Saint Pierre d’Aurillac, who established a priory here in the 10th century. The abbey church was built between 1075 and 1150 and ranks amongst the finest examples of Romanesque and Byzantine architectural styles in the South-West of France. It is laid out on the plan of a Latin cross, and it is said that the sanctuary was inspired by the church of Haghia Sophia in Istanbul. The church has some architectural similaries with the Saint-Front Cathedral in Périgueux and the Saint-Étienne Cathedral in Cahors.
Some early wall paintings exist in a wall niche inside the entrance.
The church was seriously damaged during the Wars of Religion, and the abbey was dismantled during the French Revolution and used as a tobacco warehouse.
Romanesque sculpture flourished in Souillac. The inner western wall is has impressive carvings that were originally part of the portal. One highly adorned column has fabulous animals fighting each other. To the left of the doorway as you enter the church is a carving of the prophet Isaiah in a posture of movement, possibly dance, one of the most important depictions of a prophet in Romanesque art.
Abbey Church of Sainte-Marie
Place Pierre Betz
Report by Linda Wilson
Search terms: abbey, church, wall paintings, daisy wheel (compass drawn), circle (compass drawn), circle (cluster), Circle (incomplete) merel, merel (incomplete) three men’s morris