Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lavardin, Le Prieuré Saint-Genest

Lavardin is a tiny town (population just over 250) on the Loir River in the northern reaches of our département, le Loir-et-Cher. It's not far from Vendôme. The town is known for its picturesque setting and the ruins of an eleventh century château high on a bluff above the river. It was impressive enough in the dead of winter; I imagine it would be quite a sight in summer.

Le Prieuré St.-Genest in Lavardin.

The church is a Romanesque structure, dating from the early twelfth century. We didn't go inside the day we visited in January, but apparently there are impressive frescoes and murals inside spanning the twelfth through the sixteenth centuries.

Saint-Genest was a third century Roman actor who apparently and quite publicly converted to Christianity during a performance. He was decapitated for it. Interestingly, Genest is likely an earlier spelling of the word we know as genêt (scotch broom).


  1. In November, we drove around looking at the various slate spires of churches. Some are spiral, others straight and one was curved. I didn't know that this was a trail designated to follow but we took it and were not disappointed. We visited Beauge, Vieil Bauge and a few other villages.

  2. Lavardin is a neat village, one of France's most beautiful (officially!)

    Your photos are so much better than ours. I hope you'll show us more of the town and its famous bridge.

    Walt, this is one of my winter treats--you guys have brownies, I have your photos.

  3. At first glance, I thought the title was ** Saint Genet and I wondered when Jean Genet had been named a saint. Beautiful church.

  4. Wonderful, another one for The List!

    There are so many places like this within "day out distance" you just want to spend your life touring round them all! Its good that you take the time to appreciate each and every one, and even better that you present them for us....!


  5. I think I see a Capet in the upstairs window, waving yoohoo!

  6. rachael, those spiral steeples are something, aren't they?

    carolyn, well, I don't have a photo of the bridge... another reason for going back this summer!

    starman, hehehe.

    nick, I know. Our list is long...

    michael, hmmmmm...

  7. When I saw St. Genest In your headline, I immediately identified him as Saint Genesius, patron saint of actors, comics, jugglers, etc., a third cent. Roman actor who as engaged for a play ridiculing Christianity but who had a St.Paul-like conversion during the performance his confession of faith supposedly enraged the Emperor who had him beheaded.

    He is known as St. Genesius of Rome but there are problems, because there is a documented St. Genesius of Arles who did all the same things. To make things more complicated, and there are bodies of St. Genesius the actor/ martyr in both Arles and Rome. Busy man, he apparently solved the old problem of being in two places at once.

    However if you Google St. Genest of the formidable structure pictured, you find him identified as a 7th century "Bishop of Clermont (now Clermont-Ferrand). Dedicatee of painted church at Lavardin on the River Loir."

    None of this is surprising: during my Catholic school upbringing there were many contradictory saint stories and eventually it was sheepishly admitted that a great many saints venerated for centuries with major churches all over the world had actually never existed at all but were total fabrications.

    I've eMailed you a picture of the Saint's fresco from the apse. There are many good interior photos available by Googling.

  8. will, thanks for the photo and the interesting story. None of it surprises me in the least. I mean, even today, with everything being recorded all the time, different versions of the same story are told depending on who's doing the telling. Just saying it makes it true. Politics will never change.


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