St. Maurice d’Ardeche Church
The church in St. Maurice d’Ardeche was part of a much larger architectural complex which housed a convent which was in turn founded by the Abbey of Saint Andre le Haut in Vienne (Isere). Of rather small size, the church has a Romanesque style cupola. Any study of it is rather difficult as the Romanesque building has undergone major transformations over the centuries.
Nevertheless, it retains two fine sculpted capitals at the entrance to the apse. These capitals relate the martyrdom of St. Maurice: originally from the Christian part of Egypt, Maurice was enrolled into the Roman Army and sent to fight in the Alps at the head of the Theban Legion in the IIIrd century. Having received the order from Emperor Maximian to exterminate the Christians, the Legion came to a halt near Lake Leman. Maurice and his companions having refused to renounce their faith and make sacrifices to the Roman gods were massacred on the orders of the Emperor and put up no resistance. From the IVth century onwards the cult of St. Maurice and his companions spread throughout all Western Christianity.
Translated by Judith Sabaton