Friday, May 23, 2008

St Pantaleon, Provence, France

I read this last week in the Michelin guide to Provence:

… St-Pantaleon’s Romanesque church is built out of the living rock and consists of three naves; the central part dates back to the 5C.

Surrounding the church is a rock necropolis, most of the tombs of which are child-size. This necropolis was most likely a sanctuary of grace; there are other examples like it in Provence. Children who died before they were baptized were brought here by their parents, they revived--according to the beliefs of the period--for the duration of a mass during which they were baptized, they then died again and were buried here.

Intrigued, I visited the site twice, since it was only 4km from where I was staying. The church was small, and the first time I went, in the evening, I didn’t even see the necropolis, but only the small cemetery with large, newer tombs.

The second time, in the morning, I found the necropolis to the side and back of the building. It is as Michelin described: graves carved right into the rock, a few adult-sized, but most the size of a baby.

I love being a travel and editorial photographer.

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