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Cathedral Notre-dame Fontenay-le-Comte
Magnificent Church of our Lady can be seen from miles around as its 18th
century elegant spire standing atop a 15th century bell tower looks out
over the Plaine and the Marais Poitevin.
Founded in the 12th century as an Augustinian abbey, it had its gables rebuilt in the 15th century and the vaulting in the 19th century. Below is a Carolingian crypt with groined vaulting held up by plain pillars that date from the 11th Century.
The reconstruction of 3 arches started in 1423 and completed by 1466,
the monogram of the mason can be seen on the tower. In 1540 the mason
Lienard Reau built the chapel of St. Pierre. During the Wars of Religion
the church was looted and in 1568 the pillars were undermined and the
vaults collapsed with further damage to the tower and stairs in 1574.
Repairs started in 1600 but it was not until 1648 that repairs to the
vaults were done. During the Revolution the church became the "Temple of
Reason" and it was 1801 before worship was restored. From 1844 to 1849
the steeple was renovated and this was followed by the restoration of
the north and west portals in 1855. Restoration continued until 1943
when the apse bays were reopened. The four faces of the tower are
decorated with statues of saints, angels and grotesque characters. In
the north portal is a statue of the Virgin with child and the wise and
foolish Virgins are in the arches.
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