Eglise Saint Vincent

Les Baux-de-Provence - Cultural place

The old village had three churches: Saint-André in the La Fontaine Valley, the first parish church, abandoned in 1481 and since disappeared; Notre Dame du Château or Sainte-Catherine Chapel (12th-16th centuries), the castle chapel in the citadel enclosure, and Saint-Vincent Church, the former priory which depended on Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. To the right of the portal, hidden behind a pillar, the Provençal poet Frédéric Mistral is said to have engraved his name in the stone, together with the name of his home village of Maillane. Inside, visitors can see modern stained glass windows by Max Ingrand (1955) given to the commune by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1962. In the Chapel dug into the rock is the chariot from the Midnight Mass Pastrage ceremony, celebrated on 24 December every year in the presence of Arlésiennes in traditional dress; this chariot is used to transport the newborn lamb presented by the shepherds. Saint Vincent Church is now an almost square building, which faces east in accordance with tradition. Built in the 12th century, the building was extended for the first time in the 16th century and then modified in the 17th and 19th centuries. It was restored in the 1960s. This monument is characteristic of Les Baux constructions, thanks to its semi-troglodyte southern section. The façade exterior was heavily modified by 19th century restoration work, which transformed the staircase which ran along the wall. Above the portal and a semi-circular window, there is a very beautiful sculpture of a lion. The Lantern of the Dead on the southern flank is an elegant circular tower topped with a cupola adorned with gargoyles; there, according to tradition, a flame once burned when a resident of Les Baux died. The large broken barrel vaulted nave was extended eastwards in 1609 without disturbing the overall Romanesque harmony, which is completed by a flat chevet. The Chapel of Manville, built by Claude de Manville and his wife Philippine de Brion in the second quarter of the 16th century, still has some beautiful Renaissance architectural features: an attractive vault adorned with liernes and tercerons (a copy of the one constructed in the Château Chapel in 1520), with the arms of the Manville family on the keystone, a window where visitors can admire, on the cornerstone, the remains of a 16th century stained glass window representing a crucifixion (Christ on the cross is surrounded by the Virgin, Saint John, the sun and the moon), and a beautiful archway leading to the next chapel, Saint Sebastian. The Neo-Gothic style monument erected to the memory of the deceased in the Manville family dates from 1906. The tomb, which features a princess lying on a divan, is made of Carrara marble. The first chapel, starting from the back of the church, to the right on entering, has ogival vaults and contains baptismal fonts whose basin could date from the 17th century. Before entering the second chapel, admire the vault of the side-nave (serrated décor on the transverse arch and cornice, dating from the 12th century). The second chapel was dedicated to Saint Mark. It contains an ancient tomb and a basin, dug into the rock. A beautiful tombstone, which must have once been on the church floor, was embedded in the first pillar of the nave in the early 19th century. It belongs to a gentleman, perhaps from the Court of Jeanne de Laval, who died in Les Baux in October 1467. He is portrayed on bended knee, hands together, dressed in the clothes of the time. The last chapel was that of the Brotherhood of sheep shearers and the brotherhood of vine-growers. The keystone and corbels which support the ogival arches bear the emblems of these two Brotherhoods: vine leaves and shearers. The stained glass window portrays a sheep shearer.

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