Friday, 27 November 2020

Sainte Catherine de Fierbois

Sainte Catherine de Fierbois is a charming and very old village with a population of 650 that grew up around a chapel supposedly built at the orders of Charles Martel in 732, after he vanquished the Moors in the Battle of Poitiers. It is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, patron saint of soldiers, in thanks. The legend says that he left his sword behind the altar. The 'fierbois' part of the name refers to the wild wood which grew in the area.

Former Saint James chapel, now library, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Former Chapel of Saint James, now municipal library.

The village is on the old Route to Spain, and is an offical waystop on the pilgrim route to Compostella. During the Hundred Years War its fame grew, and many knights, peasants and travellers came here to pledge their devotion. Inevitably miracles started to occur, especially cures.


Medieval pilgrim hostelry now Town Hall, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Former medieval pilgrim hostelry, now Town Hall.

Around 1400, local Lord, Jean de Meingre, known as Boucicaut, had a chaplaincy built to accommodate the increasing hordes of pilgrims. The building, which is now the Town Hall and recently restored, is right in the centre of the village and originally had a chapel at one end dedicated to Saint James, as well as three dormitories (one for the poor), a courtyard, garden and meadow. The chapel now serves as the municipal library. There is a small statue of Saint Catherine on the buttress.


Rear of the former medieval pilgrim hostelry, now Town Hall, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The rear of the former pilgrim hostelry.

Joan of Arc stayed here, dressed in men's clothing, with her six male companions, on her way to see the Dauphin Charles, on 4 and 5 March 1429. From here she wrote Charles a letter requesting to see him. He responded favourably and sent two men to escort her to Chinon.

Lane by church, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The lane down the side of the church.

The Maison du Dauphin is so called because it is believed Charles VII once stayed there, but it was built by the Lord of nearby Sainte Maure de Touraine in 1478, more than a decade after Charles' death. It features four mullioned windows and a low front door surrounded by decorative carving. The gables have crochets (decorative hooks) and winged dragons. On either side of the door is an escutcheon -- one with the arms of France, the other so degraded it is impossible to say. The building was completely restored in 2007.


View of the church in Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
View of the church, with a statue of Joan in front.

Maison du Dauphin, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
La Maison du Dauphin.

Winged dragon on the Maison du Dauphin, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Winged dragon on the roof of the Maison du Dauphin.

House in Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A tall narrow house next to the church.

War memorial, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
War memorial, featuring a twice lifesize bronze cockerel in the middle. The cockerel is apparently a fountain and spouts water out of its beak.

Well in a garden, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A very old well in a private garden, with two lions heads on the rim.

 


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4 comments:

Colin and Elizabeth said...

Nice village which used to have a great music festival.

Jean said...

There also used to be a bar restaurant with a basic rustic menu which we always meant to try. I hope it has survived the pandemic so that we can sample what's on offer one day. One day.......

Susan said...

I didn't know about the music festival.

Susan said...

So far as I could tell the restaurant appeared to still be going, although it was closed when we were there. I stood on their terrace to take some photos.

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