Thursday, 2 July 2020

Stolen Relic

Simon and I were very shocked to learn recently that a medieval relic has been stolen from the Abbey Church in Preuilly, back in early June.

 The ruin of the church of Saint Mélaine.
Ruin of the Church of Saint Melaine, Preuilly sur Claise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Preuilly was once the destination for a great pilgimage, to the Church of Saint Mélaine, now a ruin next to the chateau overlooking the town. The bones of Saint Mélaine had been moved here from Brittany for safekeeping from marauding Normans in the 11th century. To be honest, we had no idea the relics still existed, and have never seen them where they were kept in a side chapel at the Abbey since the Revolution.

Inside the Abbey of Saint Pierre.
Abbey of Saint Pierre, Preuilly sur Claise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The bones were kept in a guilded casket and medieval miracles were directly attributed to them. The market value of the few grams of gold involved would be very little. No one can work out if it was stolen to order for a collector of religious objects, vandalism, mysticism or ignorance.

 The newly re-roofed Church of Saint Melaine, next to the Chateau du Lion, 
in the snow a few years ago.
Church of Saint Melaine and Chateau du Lion, Preuilly sur Claise.

Until the 1960s there was an annual procession in Preuilly to honour the saint. And now a thousand years of history is sullied by this low act.


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Colin and Elizabeth said...

Perhaps to give the bones a proper burial instead of being left around to be worshiped or something... Never understood that at all C

Ricks Carson, Atlanta said...

I livd in the Chateau du Lion in 1971-2 as it was being renovated by Jack and Gurney Campbell, Americans who lived in Paris. I was in and out of the ruins of the church whilst doing chores. Apparently the present chateau was built on the ruins of an 11th century collégiale. During the renovations, an underground passageway for the monks' use was discovered, with beautiful Romanesque arches. As I recall, ruins of the nave of the church were located on the other side of the property. All in all it was a magical place to live. I fetched water from the town well in jerrycans, split wood for the little fireplace, and lived by sun time as there was no electricity.

Susan said...

Having a few bones in a box isn't anywhere near as creepy as having entire fully clothed skeletons on display, like they do in Italy.

Susan said...

The existing church ruin can't be younger than 12C, so it's interesting that something even older was on the site.

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