Discover the Church of the Holy Sepulcher of Villeneuve in Aveyron, whose plan is inspired by the basilica of Jerusalem. Visit this historic place which hides 14th century wall paintings.

Mysteries and wonders: immerse yourself in the history of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Discover this amazing church built in two stages: the Romanesque part of the 11th century, and the Gothic church of the 13th century, and let yourself be carried away by the legend of the Hanged Man, thanks to the exceptional murals which retrace this history… Recently, you can also access the chapter house, passing through the adjoining garden!

Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Villeneuve

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a stop on our classic guided tours, sensory tours and night tours. Your guide will tell you his secrets before exploring the streets of the village of Villeneuve.

5 reasons to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

  1. Enjoy the harmony of Gothic and Romanesque arts.
  2. Contemplate the murals from the 14th century
  3. Discover the unusual organ.
  4. Stroll in the garden of the old priory.
  5. Look up and admire the exterior modillions.
Opening hours from January 01 to December 31, 2024
Monday Open from 08 p.m. to 19:30 p.m.
Tuesday Open from 08 p.m. to 19:30 p.m.
Wednesday Open from 08 p.m. to 19:30 p.m.
Thursday Open from 08 p.m. to 19:30 p.m.
Friday Open from 08 p.m. to 19:30 p.m.
Saturday Open from 08 p.m. to 19:30 p.m.
Sunday Open from 08 p.m. to 19:30 p.m.
Open. Closes at 19:30 p.m.
Place de l’église
12260 Villeneuve
Calculate my route

Tourist webcam

Villeneuve live

For a panoramic view of Villeneuve in real time, consult the Villeneuve webcam. Overlooking the village from the top of the Soubirane Tower, it offers a view of the picturesque rooftops, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the surrounding landscapes. Whether you are a resident, visitor or pilgrim to Compostela, admire the beauty of Villeneuve at any time. Find out the weather conditions and get inspired by this historic place before coming there.

The Storytellers
Church of the Holy Sepulcher Villeneuve d'Aveyron

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher of Villeneuve, a remarkable monument

Modifications and additions over the centuries have not altered the sober elegance of its architecture : the quality of the material used explains this success. Its octagonal bell tower, dating from the 15th century, dominates the roofs of the Rescued from Villeneuve. Inspired by the basilica of Jerusalem, this church is a symbolic place for Christians. 

The clock tower, built at the end of the 15th century, harmoniously completes the building. For centuries, pastoral life was punctuated by the bells and chimes of the tower, recalling the holy city and the tomb of Christ. All around Villeneuve, whether you are on the Causse or elsewhere, you can see the spire of the bell tower added in the 19th century and the Saint-Michel tower, serving as landmarks for pilgrims and visitors. 

Two churches in one

The Romanesque church

The plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher of Villeneuve is inspired by that of the basilica of Jerusalem, built around the tomb of Christ in the 7th century. It includes a circular portico surrounding the tomb and four apses oriented towards the four cardinal points. 

The entrance porch, to the west, is surmounted by a semicircular arch and lacks an eardrum. As soon as one enters the narthex, a vestibule reserved for foreigners at the monastery, the plan of the initial church is clearly visible. Two apses revolve around a ribbed dome, supported by four massive columns.

The chapel, on the north side, is that of the Holy Sepulchre, subsequently decorated with paintings in the 14th century. On the south side, the chapel of the dead opened onto the cloister, now destroyed, allowing direct access for monks to services. The last apse was destroyed to allow the extension of the church in the 13th century. A grandstand is located above the narthex.

Romanesque church, Villeneuve
J. Morel
Gothic church, Villeneuve

The Gothic church

The Church of Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul extends the original church, with a long Gothic nave with a single bay, in the Languedoc style. Its five-sided bedside is lit by five large windows. Contemporary stained glass windows, bright and sober, fit perfectly into the choir. They represent Christ surrounded by his two apostles, Peter and Paul, holy protectors of the parish. In the choir, we notice the stalls, made of folds of napkins, dating from the 15th century. 

Christ, also dating from the 15th century, is a centerpiece. The altar, in gilded wood, dates from the 18th century. Six chapels, built for notables, are located on either side of the nave. It will be particularly noted, in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy, a 17th century entombment painted by the master Agar. This chapel is an important place of contemplation, recalling the symbolism of Christ's tomb and the cross. 

In the footsteps of Saint-Jacques: discover the captivating murals of Villeneuve

Since the beginning of the 14th century, the Romanesque chapel of the Holy Sepulcher has been decorated with paintings inspired by the theme of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. They situate Villeneuve as a stopover on the way to Compostela, highlighting the historical importance of this place of Christian pilgrimage. 

At the top, in the center, Christ in majesty sits on a throne and blesses with his right hand. His gesture is addressed to everyone and no faithful are represented. Christ is inscribed in a Gothic mandorla, and behind him, white buildings with ocher roofs simulate a holy city. Tiny angels and the symbols of the tetramorph surround Christ, as well as the apostles, their heads ringed with medallions. 

Lower, but on several levels, pilgrimage scenes occur. You must follow them from left to right, recognizing the attributes of the “backgammons”: the raised-brimmed hat decorated with a shell, the staff (shod stick on which the pilgrim leans and which is used to defend himself from brigands or wolves), a flask, a purse, a leather bag, and to face bad weather, the cape. 

At the middle level, on either side of the Romanesque window, we discover the representation of a famous legend, widespread in Europe since the 12th century: the miracle of “hanged addict”. This legend illustrates the faith and miracles associated with the Camino de Santiago, reinforcing the sacred symbolism of the place. 

The Miracle of the Dependent Hangman

A couple of pilgrims were going to Compostela with their son, a handsome teenager. In Santo Domingo de la Calzada, they stopped at an inn. The servant fell in love with the handsome young blond man who rejected her advances. To take revenge, she slipped a silver cup into her bag. Upon his denunciation, the innkeeper had the trio of pilgrims pursued.  

The cup was actually discovered in the teenager's bag, and he was sentenced to be hanged. The unfortunate parents continued their pilgrimage. Returning from Compostela, they once again passed by the foot of the gallows where their child had been hanged. What was their astonishment to discover him, still hanged, but very much alive! Saint Jacques had supported him during these fifteen days to spare him an unjust death!  

The parents ran to the judge to tell him of the miracle and obtain the release of their innocent son. But the incredulous judge declared that he would only believe in the miracle if the poultry roasting for his meal began to sing. Saint James was not short of miracles to defend his young devotee: the poultry began to jump on the table and utter a loud cackling noise three times. Faced with the evidence of the miracle, the young man was exonerated, the servant seized and hanged. And the glory of Saint James was celebrated by all the pilgrims, and this story spread throughout all of Christendom. 

The chapter house

Designed according to western type plan and rule of Saint Benedict, the chapter house of the Villeneuve priory is a central place for the Christian community. Located to the south of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and opening onto the cloister, it was reserved for the prior and the monks of the choir, the lay brothers not having access to it. 

Derived from Latin “capitolum” meaning “chapter” and referring to the daily reading of an extract from the Benedictine rule, this room was the meeting place where all the affairs of the community were discussed. It dealt with questions of material organization, admission to the novitiate, the reception of distinguished guests, the pronunciation of vows of commitment and everything relating to monastic discipline. 

Architecturally, the chapter house had three semi-circular barrel vaulted bays, reinforced by double arches supported by columns with large drums, topped with capitals with images of characters. Although these elements have almost entirely disappeared, they once testified to the Christian art of the time. 

This historic place, essential in the life of monks, is a valuable testimony of the religious and community life of Villeneuve throughout the centuries. The chapter house, with its stone vaults and sculpted capitals, is a remarkable building which attracts the attention of visitors interested in history and Christian heritage. 

Chapter house of Villeneuve d'Aveyron

Was this content useful to you?