The GîteThe main house and gîteThe garden
Sunday, 5th February 2023  
self catering Les Salles Lavauguyon

On the boundary line of the Limousin and the Charente Limousine, the old village of Lavauguyon and the ruins of its feudal castle, built on a rocky promontory, overlook the river Tardoire. The little town is well provided with a variety of shops, craftsmen and a post office.

At the heart of the town is the church of Saint-Eutrope, one of the most striking buildings of the Limousin. It was scheduled as a building of historic interest on 18th of October 1907.

Of the original church, built during the Roman period (late 11th-12th century), only the nave with its barrel vaults over the aisles has survived. The choir and the bell tower were rebuilt towards the end of the 12th century. The choir, although Gothic, has architectural characteristics of the Roman tradition.

On account of its situation, the building possesses a remarkable feature, it climbs up from arch to arch, step by step, towards the choir.

The architecture of the building shows great simplicity and homogenity, which makes it an exceptional witness of the Roman architecture of the Limousin.

The following text has been copied by kind permission from the leaflet which is available from the reception office at the church of Saint-Eutrope:

The Legend of Saint Eutrope

Les Salles Lavauguyon

Saint Eutrope is the patron saint of the parish of Les Salles Lavauguyon. He is also the healer-saint associated with the spring that rises near the church. But who exactly is he, and where does he come from? Very few people know.

Saint Eutrope was the first Bishop of Saintes, but history records little beyond the fact that Gregory of Tours (AD 539-593) includes him in a list of bishops present in Gaul under the Emperor Decius (AD 249-251). The memory of the saintly bishop was preserved solely by word of mouth until the lives of the saints were written down for the first time around the year AD 1000.

The annex at the church of Saint Eutrope Each story-teller and copyist embellished the life of the saint, adding more and more glorious episodes at the expense of historical accuracy. History was soon distorted into ever more impassible legend. Some of the numerous versions of the life of Saint Eutrope are relatively recent. The nineteenth century scholar from the Saintonge, Louis Audiat studied these, and from them made a synthesis upon which the following account is based:  
The inside of the church Eutrope came from Persia (modern Iran). The son of King Xerxes, he was drawn to travel to Palestine by stories about Jesus. He witnessed the feeding of the five thousand, where he met the young Martial (who later became Saint Martial, the first Bishop of Limoges, and who, according to legend, was the thirteenth apostle). Later, he was present at Christ's entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. After Jesus' arrest he went home to raise an army to rescue him; but before he could bring this about, on hearing the news of Christ's death he ordered the massacre of all the Jews in his country. After this he joined the apostles and first disciples and was amongst those who set off to bring the Gospel to Europe. In some legends he ravelled in the same small boat which brought Saint Martha and Saint Mary Magdalene to Les Saintes Manes de Ia Mer; in others he made the voyage with Saint Denis (the evangelist of Paris) or else Saint Martial, or Saint Peter He may even have been first Bishop of Orange before coming to the Saintonge.  
A fresco As soon as he arrived in Saintes, he chose to live amongst the poor and converted more and more people from every background, amongst them the Princess Estelle, daughter of the Roman governor, who was baptised at the age of 13. She renounced her father and went to live near the bishop. He father could not accept that she should become the servant of a Christian and paid some bandits 150 livres to get rid of the intruder. They then organised a riot in which 2000 people took part. The bishop was stoned (1), beaten by sticks and flogged. Finally an axe was buried in the head of the martyr-saint. The following night, Estelle, with his disciples recovered his body and buried it in her own garden, which then became a place of veneration and of miracles. Estelle was, in turn, herself beheaded by her father and buried near Eutrope.  
Fresco When the saint's coffin was opened several centuries later in order to remove his relics, his skull was found to bear the marks of the axe which had killed him. That very night Eutrope appeared in a vision to two of those who had taken part in the exhumation and said: 'this scar which you saw on my head, is the blow by which I was martyred.' (2)  
South entrance to the church Thus the story of Saint Eutrope was re-written. In 1715 the poet Juillard du Jarry said:

"A great martyr by noble deeds
Lifted the shadows from the oppressed.
Sent to these places by Saint Peter
Eutrope drew the blinds from their eyes."

Alain Mingaud

(1) and (2): The two parts of the legend of the saint which are depicted on the inside west wall of the church of Les Salles.



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