Montceaux-l'Etoile in Burgundy is home to a small Romanesque church with a beautiful west portal depicting the Ascension of Christ.
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
|Names:||Église Montceaux-l'Etoile · Montceaux l'Etoile Church|
|Dedication:||St. Peter and St. Paul|
|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|
- Personal visit (June 9, 2008).
- Peter Strafford, Romanesque Churches of France: A Traveller's Guide (London: Giles de la Mare, 2005), 46-47.
- Montceaux-l'Etoile - art-roman.net
- Montceaux-l'Etoile - Notes romanes
- William J. Travis, "Of Sirens and Onocentaurs: A Romanesque Apocalypse at Montceaux-l'Etoile." Artibus et Historiae (2002).
- Onocentaur - The Medieval Bestiary
- Photos of Montceaux l'Etoile Church - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Montceaux l'Etoile Church
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