Valley, Centre - Val de Loire region of France has a very
interesting religious history. Like the rest of the country it
has a predominately Catholic history inherited from its
'founding father' Clovis I with almost every town and village
having its own church (sometimes more than one) but
in the 16th century this
brought the majority into conflict with the minority population
of Huguenots, French Protestants
and created a period of
which resulted, after many twists and turns, in the 'Edicts of
Nantes' in which the majority of civil rights were regained by
practicing Protestants. The
'French Revolution' (1789-1792) resulted in the
the collapse of the monarchy
and with it Catholicism.By 1789 all churches and religious
orders were effectively closed down, many of the buildings
becoming community properties such as storage facilities or
factories and even stables.
They were also plundered for their
statues, relics and works of art -
some lost forever.
were taken from churches and cemeteries to distance them from
religion and any symbolism of it. It was not until six years
later that some were allowed to be reopened and used for
Revolution saw the association of religion and
government change with the country taking the position of secularization which it still holds today.
Following the turmoil of this period the 19th century saw a
revival of religious sentiment and desire to return to an open
expression of faith.
Despite the ravages of war and
revolution the churches of the Loire Valley have, to a greater
extent, survived and many still have an open door policy with
regards to visitors. You will find an
excellent variety of medieval architecture from small Romanesque
village churches to fine gothic influenced churches.