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Religious Buildings

Saint-Maixent church in Niort (Souché district)

The Romanesque building was damaged by the protestants and then partially restored during the XVIIth century and enlarged in the XVIIIth century.

The statue of the tower represents Saint Maixent in a niche in a neo-gothic dais crushing the fairy snake Mélusine.

Sainte-Marie-Madelaine Church in Niort , Saint Liguaire District.

The building dating from the XVth, XVIIIth and XIXth centuries was in part built out of materials from the old monastery at Saint-Liguaire.

Must see: the stained glass window portraying a “mégissier”* (1928) and the stained glass window of Saint Anne (1952, in Art Deco style).

*Mégissier : a craftsman working on the first stages of tanning if sheepskins.

Saint-Etienne du Port Church, rue Gambetta, in Niort.

The parish, made up of workmen, market gardeners and gardeners was created by Imperial Decree in 1853. The neo-gothic building was built between 1897 and 1906 thanks to the generosity of the master tanner Boinot and to the energy of father Riquet who organized charity sales, concerts, festivals …… to finance a major part of the work. It is the first church in France to be free of any administrative supervision by the state.

Must see :

  •  The imposing single nave with rib vaults.
  •  The ciborium (canopy with columns above the altar)
  •  The six side chapels,
  •  The drained crypt,
  •  The stained glass windows in the apse which tell the story of the life of Saint Etienne,
  •  The great organ,
  •  The wooden statue of the Church’s patron which was sculpted by Laurent Page.

 

Saint-Florent Church, 1 rue Camille Desmoulins in Niort.

This XIth and XIIth century church was built alongside the road to St Jacques of Compostella on the way to St Jean d’Angély. Its high facade has a doorway in a full arch and a clocher-peigne bell tower (a bell tower with two openings for hanging the bells)..

Notice the use in the masonry of 4 pre-Romanesque sculptures in the form of a frame. Is it a representation of the life of mankind or that of Saint Florent and figurations of the Annunciation and the Visitation ?

Saint Florent, a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity and was ordained priest by Saint Martin, lived the life of a hermit in a grotto, near the Loire. The legend has it that he was able to give blind people their sight back; that he could heal the sick and deliver people who were possessed. He died at the great age of 123 years old at the end of IVth century.

Saint André Church rue Saint André, in Niort.

Proudly standing on the highest hill of Niort, the church designed by the architect Segrétain looks like a cathedral with its two 70 metre high spires. The church survived the wars of religion and the revolution before being completely rebuilt in neo-gothic style at the end of the XIXth century.

Saint-André church was, so it was said, the most beautiful and the largest church of the province and it was also older than Notre-Dame. During the revolution, the chruch was to a large extent destroyed and was renamed and became known as the "Temple of the Mountain".

Saint-Hilaire church in Niort.

This XIXth century Neo-Romanesque Byzantine style church partly finances by the Emperor Napoleon III and designed by Pierre-Théophile Segrétain, the first county architect of the Deux-Sèvres, carries the name of the Saint who brought Christianity to the Poitou, the first bishop of Poitiers in the IVth century. A Doctor of Religion who gave his name to 85 French communes, including Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud (Marais Poitevin).

A large statue of the saint can be seen on the facade, whose overall shape resembles that of Notre-Dame la Grande of Poitiers. The statue is in the statue of Saint Ambroise, Doctor of the Latin Church and that of Saint Athanase, Doctor of the Greek Church, and both contemporaries of the bishop. Saint Hilaire is giving a blessing with his right hand and in his left hand - he is holding thee book of the Trinity and is fighting off a monster.

Notre-Dame Church, rue Jeanne d’Arc à Niort

Built between 1491 and 1534 in flamboyant Gothic style on the site of an old Romanesque Chapel Notre-Dame church was rebuilt and restored in the XVIIth, XVIIIth and XIXth centuries. A listed historical monument, its North door has decorative elements which belong to the end of the Gothic period (pilasters forming “pinnacles”*, ornamental decoration of curly cabbage leaves on the curving arches, “remplage”** in the form of banners in the first floor window) and to the Renaissance (tribune decorated with medallions of heads in profile and three quarters turned, sculpted on the balustrade). Notre-Dame church is the highest monument in the Deux Sèvres.. The spire is 75 metres high !

According to a Poitevin legend, the spire was built by the fairy Mélusine. During her night-time escapades, Mélusine, half woman, half winged serpent, built towns and castles (town of Parthenay, castles of Coudray-Salbart, Cherveux, and Niort...) so that her husband Raymondin, sire of Lusignan would become more powerful.

*Pinnacle : top of a pilaster (square column) that finishes in a conical or pointed form.
**Remplage : stonework filling the inside of a window.

Niort Temple
The protestant temple has been situated since 1805, in the old church of the  Cordeliers convent. This can be seen from the open Bible on the tympanum of the door. The church which dates from the mid XIIIth century was damaged during the wars of religion and was restored in 1607 as the date engraved above the window indicates.
The building no longer has a bell tower or side chapel.
 Sainte-Pezenne church in the district of Sainte-Pezenne (Rue centrale)
This is the oldest church in Niort. The first building which was erected on the site of a pagan temple dedicated to Thor, was rebuilt between the end of the XIth century and beginning of the XIIth century. It was altered between the XVth and XXth centuries and became a listed building in  2003
At the time of the Norman invasions, (IXth-Xth centuries), Pezenne, the nun, fled to  Aquitaine from Spain where she was born and where there were persecutions. 
After walking a long way with her companions Macrine and Colombe, she died of exhaustion on a hill which overlooks the Sèvre Niortaise river. Miraculous healings around her tomb are at the origin of a very popular pilgrimage.  In 1147, at the time of the second crusade, Eleanor of Aquitaine gave the remains of Pezzenne to the count of Vermandois who took them to the North of France, to Saint-Quentin. The town was captured in 1557 by the army of Philip II of Spain.
The emperor gave the relic to his sister, the Empress of Germany. When she died she willed the relic to her native country. The body was placed in a chapel of the royal palace of the Escurial of Madrid. One of the nun’s fingers was given to the parish in 1955 after the careful work of the county archivist of the Deux-Sèvres, Maurice Béguin and of Father Morice, the parish priest of Sainte-Pezenne !

Niort Temple

The protestant temple has been situated since 1805, in the old church of the  Cordeliers convent. This can be seen from the open Bible on the tympanum of the door. The church which dates from the mid XIIIth century was damaged during the wars of religion and was restored in 1607 as the date engraved above the window indicates.The building no longer has a bell tower or side chapel.

Sainte-Pezenne church in the district of Sainte-Pezenne (Rue centrale)

This is the oldest church in Niort. The first building which was erected on the site of a pagan temple dedicated to Thor, was rebuilt between the end of the XIth century and beginning of the XIIth century. It was altered between the XVth and XXth centuries and became a listed building in  2003At the time of the Norman invasions, (IXth-Xth centuries), Pezenne, the nun, fled to  Aquitaine from Spain where she was born and where there were persecutions. After walking a long way with her companions Macrine and Colombe, she died of exhaustion on a hill which overlooks the Sèvre Niortaise river. Miraculous healings around her tomb are at the origin of a very popular pilgrimage.  In 1147, at the time of the second crusade, Eleanor of Aquitaine gave the remains of Pezzenne to the count of Vermandois who took them to the North of France, to Saint-Quentin. The town was captured in 1557 by the army of Philip II of Spain.The emperor gave the relic to his sister, the Empress of Germany. When she died she willed the relic to her native country. The body was placed in a chapel of the royal palace of the Escurial of Madrid. One of the nun’s fingers was given to the parish in 1955 after the careful work of the county archivist of the Deux-Sèvres, Maurice Béguin and of Father Morice, the parish priest of Sainte-Pezenne !

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