History Files


Churches of France

Gallery: Churches of Limousin

by Peter Kessler, 13 December 2009

Haute-Vienne & Creuse Part 3: Churches of Bellac & Guéret

Église de Saint-Sornin-Leulac

Église de Saint-Sornin-Leulac is another church which seems not to bear a dedication of its own but is instead named after the town in which it lies. Saint-Sornin Leulac is located on the N145 road just a few kilometres north-west of Fromental. The town is a stopover point for many tourists who are heading either towards the ocean or towards the mountains. At the centre of the town is a shady square which is popular as a picnic spot.

Église de Saint-Sornin-Leulac

The church was built in the twelfth century in the Romanesque style. Its stonework probably replaced an earlier church which may have been made in wood, just as with most Anglo-Saxon churches in England. It was apparently redesigned and restored several times, but information on the details seems to be impossible to come by. As for surroundings, the town offers a verdant countryside with many lakes, two of which are open to fishing in the summer.

Église de Saint-Sornin-Leulac

Thanks to being situated on the protected site of the 'Valley Gartempe', the church is subject to a protection order. Its steeple has been occupied by a colony of bats, so the Regional Academy for Natural Spaces, in collaboration with Limoges, has put in place arrangements to avoid any damage to the building and encourage the species to nest and breed. Since 1973, the charming little town of Saint-Priest-le-Betoux has been linked to that of Saint-Sornin Leulac.

Église de Saint-Maurice-la-Souterraine

Église de Saint-Maurice-la-Souterraine (the Church of St Maurice the Underground) is in the Creuse department to the north of the Limousin region, also on the N145 but in the opposite direction from the A20 crossroads to Saint-Sornin-Leulac. With its population of about 5,000, La Souterraine is a pretty town with cobbled streets and attractive shops, and is the stopping place on the pilgrim's route to Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain.

Église de Saint-Maurice-la-Souterraine

There is evidence of pre-Roman occupation here, attested by the discovery of stone age tools and a menhir (a standing stone). Remains of Roman villas and temples have been unearthed. In the eleventh century, a Gothic church and fortified walls were built by the Saint Martial monks, but the crypt underneath the church is Roman. The name of the town, which translates as 'subterranean', comes from that very underground crypt. The church was restored in 1850.

Congrégation des Soeurs du Sauveur et de la Sainte Viergede

Congrégation des Soeurs du Sauveur et de la Sainte Viergede (Congregation of the Sisters of Christ and the Blessed Virgin) lies on the outskirts of La Souterraine. It has Gallo-Roman origins and was probably constructed due to its location on the pilgrim's route to Santiago de Compostela. A nursing and teaching congregation, it was founded outside the town in 1835 by Joséphine du Bourg, who was born on 25 June 1788 at Château de Rochemont and died in 1862.

All photos on this page kindly contributed by M Kessler.



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