Element of the Chancellor of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains

  • Element of the Chancellor of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains
The Chancellor of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains is one of the most complete sculptures preserved from the Early Middle Ages in Europe, testifying to these installations made for the needs of the liturgy. 

The church of the Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains Benedictine Monastery, founded at the end of the sixth century on the site of an ancient civil building, contained this chancel, a liturgical fence used to delimit in the choir of the Christian basilica , A space reserved for clerics thus separated from the faithful ones. It is made up of an alternation of twelve plates and nineteen pillars of low stone, most of which were discovered in 1897 during surveys in the church. Archaeological excavations in 1942 and 1987 have resulted in the successive states of the liturgical arrangements: the chancel was carved and installed after the adaptation to the Christian worship of the ancient edifice. However, due to the reuse of the plates and pillars as a building material for the pillars of the revised church in the 10th century, their original position remains unknown. 

The decorations of the chancel come from various sources: Western Roman art for friezes featuring plants and geometric motifs, Mediterranean world for the tree of life and friezes of Byzantine crosses and rosettes, Christian antiquity for crosses and plants born of chalices and "barbaric" art for the motifs of intertwined serpents. This richness and the heterogeneous nature of its components suggest that the chancel was realized in several stages and perhaps by sculptors of various backgrounds: the 7th century for decors inspired by the metal arts in the Merovingian period and more Belatedly for the scenery reminiscent of those of the mid-8th century in Lombardy (Northern Italy), especially the only chancel plaque depicting a character, identified with a blessing Christ. 
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