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Kerry | profile | all galleries >> France/UK Trip 2005 >> St Guilhem le Desert tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Elne | Collioure | Palalda | Ceret | Lagrasse | Carcassonne | Perpignan | Sete | Montpellier | Aigues-Mortes | Clermont L'Heureut | Forgotten Village | St Guilhem le Desert | Miscellaneous | Agriculture | Nimes | London, UK | Paris

St Guilhem le Desert

Saint Guilhem was the man who gave his name to the beautiful monastery in the Gellone valley, 30 kilometers northwest of Montpellier. Born sometime in the late 8th century, Guilhem was the grandson of Charles Martel, the Duke of Aquitane, and one of the Emperor Charlemagne's chosen knights. He fought bravely against the Saracens (Moslems) of Spain and became famous as the hero of medieval ballads of knightly prowess and chivalry. A devout Christian who ended his days (died 812 AD) in the monastery at Gellone, he endowed the abbey with a relic of the True Cross, given to him by Charlemagne. Left in possession of the remains of a man who had been so illustrious in his early life and so holy in his later years, and possessing this relic of the True Cross, the monastery soon prospered and became a popular place of pilgrimage in southern France. As the great medieval pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James developed in the 10th century, the monastery of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert became a recognized stage on one of the four major routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. By the middle of the 11th century this influx of pilgrims to the Gellone valley enabled the monks to rebuild their monastery on a larger scale, using the architectural techniques of the early Romanesque style. The present abbey church dates from that period.

I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked this day as I was quite feverish and sick.
Signage
Signage
Flowered alleyways
Flowered alleyways
Sculpture in monastery
Sculpture in monastery
Sealed arches/doorways
Sealed arches/doorways
Face in the arch
Face in the arch
Stone cross
Stone cross
Pilgrimage markers (see clam shell)
Pilgrimage markers (see clam shell)
Monastery
Monastery
Funky art (gargoyles)
Funky art (gargoyles)