SAINT PETER’S ABBEY MOISSAC
What is an Abbey ?
An abbey is a group of buildings where monks lived under the rule of the Abbott. Today in Moissac only certain elements have been kept : the Abbey church (now the parish church), a hostel for pilgrims, chapels and the cloister. The tympanum and the cloister are on the UNESCO World Heritage list due to the Santiago de Compostella pilgrim route. Soon, the story of the Abbey, will be recounted on a dedicated web site.
Why is it exceptionnal ?
The Abbey is remarkable for the delicacy of its sculpture, unique in the South-West of France, and it is nearly a THOUSAND YEARS OLD ! The cloister was completed in 1100, it is the oldest surviving cloister with historiated capitals in the world ! The 76 capitals tell the story of the Church, the Old and the New Testament and the lives of the martyrs : it is like reading a cartoon book on the four side of the capitals. Don’t miss the chapel in the south-west corner, the vaulting is supported on twelve square ribs radiating out from a circular key-stone. Climb the spiral staircase, you have a dominant view of the inside of the church, entirely hand-painted.
The South Door, with the masterpiece that is the Tympanum, build mid-XIIth Century is directly inspired by the Book of Revelations, written by St John. It surprises by its large size and the quality of its composition : the 24 elders surrouding Christ in glory amaze by their sylistic achievement ! On each side of the Tympanum, which should be restored shortly, the splays, depict on the left, scenes from the Old Testament and scuptures illustrating the themes of Avarice and Lewdness. On the right are illustrated scenes of the New Testament : a stunning Annunciation and a rather delicate Flight into Egypt. The Old and the New Laws are represented on the side of the pier by the very fine and elegant figure of Jeremy and the more severe figure of Peter.
In the cloister, you can view a film explaining the different scuptures and details of the Tympanum. In summer, You will be able to view the illumination of the Tympanum in colour (mid-July to mid-August, every Tuesday at about 9.30pm).
Inside the Abbey church, visitors discover a brightly-lit nave, due to the warm and light painted decoration, in the Gothic style typical of the south of France. Along the nave, in the last chapel on your right, discover the spectacular polychromatic carved Entombment, c.1500.
From The garden of the Patus, the Abbott’s Lodging, « hôtellerie Ste Foix », hosts temporary exhibitions. Discover the 11th century chapel in the Abbott’s lodging and its vault decorated with 12th century mural « a fresco ». The blues and ochre of the Tree of Jessé, family tree of Christ, play with the branches which carry the prophets with their beautiful grave faces. Rare and deeply moving !
North of the cloister, beyond the railway track which threatened to destroy the cloister, in 1840, is the old seminary used during the season to show art exhibitions.
Vendredi 7 octobre : 14h30-16h30
Samedi 8 Octobre : 10h30-14h30-16h30
Dimanche 9 octobre : 10h30
Lundi 10 octobre : 10h30-14h30-16h30
Mardi 11 octobre 14h30-16h30
Dimanche 16 octobre 14h30-16h30