Montceaux l'Etoile Church

Montceaux-l'Etoile in Burgundy is home to a small Romanesque church with a beautiful west portal depicting the Ascension of Christ.

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History of Montceaux l'Etoile Church

The church of Montceaux-l'Etoile dates from the early 12th century. The vault was replaced in the 19th century and the apse was extended in the 18th century to accommodate the Baroque tomb of the local lord, but it has otherwise been left mostly unaltered.

What to See at Montceaux l'Etoile Church

Montceaux-l'Etoile Church is a small Romanesque church with a single barrel-vaulted nave and flat west facade. The simple interior, consisting of a single nave filled cozily with pews on each side, is of little interest except for a couple fresco fragments on the walls.

The highlight of the church is the Romanesque west portal, which centers on a dynamic depiction of the Ascension of Christ (Acts 1:9-11). The tympanum and lintel were carved from a single block of limestone.

The tympanum shows Christ, triumphantly holding a cross, being borne aloft to heaven in a mandorla by two angels. Below, the Apostles and the Virgin Mary look up in amazement as two more angels point to the sky. Peter can be easily recognized among the apostles by his oversized key.

The corbels and capitals flanking the doorway are carved with dramatic scenes involving angels, demons and monsters. On the right (south) side, the capital depicts an angel pointing out the Ascension to a kneeling saint who is clutching a cloak, while the corbel depicts a siren (half-bird, half-woman) about to take flight.

On the left side, the capital is carved with a standing figure with a human upper body, fur loin cloth, and webbed or clawed feet. In a battle stance, he holds a shield in his right hand and a round object in his left. This is thought to be an onocentaur (half-man, half-donkey), who is often paired with a siren in medieval art.

Quick Facts on Montceaux l'Etoile Church

Site Information
Names:Église Montceaux-l'Etoile · Montceaux l'Etoile Church
Country:France
Categories:churches
Styles:Romanesque
Dedication: St. Peter and St. Paul
Dates:12th C
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:46.351447° N, 4.044980° E
Address:Montceaux l'Etoile, France
Hours:Usually open daily
Lodging:View hotels near Montceaux l'Etoile Church
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Personal visit (June 9, 2008).
  2. Peter Strafford, Romanesque Churches of France: A Traveller's Guide (London: Giles de la Mare, 2005), 46-47.
  3. Montceaux-l'Etoile - art-roman.net
  4. Montceaux-l'Etoile - Notes romanes
  5. William J. Travis, "Of Sirens and Onocentaurs: A Romanesque Apocalypse at Montceaux-l'Etoile." Artibus et Historiae (2002).
  6. Onocentaur - The Medieval Bestiary

More Information

View of Montceaux-l'Etoile Church from southwest, early 12th century. Burgundy, France. © Holly Hayes
West facade, early 12th century. Montceaux-l'Etoile, Burgundy, France. © Holly Hayes
Tympanum depicting the Ascension of Christ, with the Twelve Apostles and two angels watching from below. West... © Holly Hayes
The Ascension of Christ, borne to heaven by angels. Detail of tympanum on west portal, early 12th century.... © Holly Hayes
Saint Peter at the Ascension of Christ (Acts 1:9-11). Detail of tympanum on west portal, early 12th century.... © Holly Hayes
The Apostles and the Virgin Mary look up in amazement at the Ascension of Christ, while two angels explain the... © Holly Hayes
An angel points out the Ascension to a kneeling saint clutching a cloak. Capital on the right side of the west... © Holly Hayes
An onocentaur (human upper body with a donkey lower body) holding a shield and sling. Capital on the left side... © Holly Hayes
Romanesque tower, early 12th century. Montceaux-l'Etoile, Burgundy, France. © Holly Hayes
Detail of small window on the west facade, early 12th century. Montceaux-l'Etoile, Burgundy, France. © Holly Hayes
North exterior of Montceaux-l'Etoile Church, early 12th century. Burgundy, France. © Holly Hayes
Nave looking east, early 12th century. The barrel vault was rebuilt in the 19th century. Montceaux-l'Etoile,... © Holly Hayes

Map of Montceaux l'Etoile Church

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