The Église Saint-Révérien in the Nièvre town of Saint-Révérien is named after one of the earliest evangelists in Gaul. Around the year 270, Pope Felix I sent Reverianus, his friend Paulus, and ten companions (whose names have been lost over time) from their native Italy to Gaul to propogate the Christian religion. I presume that they were somewhat successful in life, but after the Emperor Aurelian had them beheaded in Autun in 273, they were canonized and were venerated by their followers.
A monastery was established on the site of the execution that eventually was dedicated to Reverianus, called Révérien now in France. The abbey was a dependency of Saint Martin d’Autun but in 1055 was confided to Cluny. The church that we see today was built in the 12th century and because of the relics of Révérien, was a place of pilgrimage on its own as well as a stop on the Compostella route.
The church is conventionally Cluniac. The nave consists of five bays covered with a banded barrel vault. The arcade arches alternate between rounded columns and square piers with engaged columns, all topped with superb figurative capitals supporting the founded arcade arches.
The side aisle bays are covered with groin vaults giving room for the large open windows that contribute a significant amount of illumination to the church interior. The springing for the vaults on the exterior wall is carried by engaged columns with their own narrow capitals.
In this shot of the north side aisle, we can see the smooth rhythmic patterns of the alternating piers and columns dividing the side aisle from the nave. We also see down the narrow side aisles into the ambulatory in the far distance. Saint Révérien is unusual in that there are no transepts, so the ambulatory proceeds directly from the side aisles.
The choir hemicycle is a superb creation, open and well-lit, and with some of the finest capitals in the church adorning the supporting columns. The choir is raised three steps above the crossing level and is covered with an oven vault.
The view of the choir and altar from the ambulatory shows the direct transition from the nave arcade to the hemicycle because there are no transepts. We can also see the painted decoration on the near pillar on the right. These Romanesque paintings are found throughout the ambulatory, especially in the side chapels.
The three beautiful radiating chapels are decorated with fine 13th century frescoes. The axial chapel has a fresco on the vault depicting the Assumption.
Other frescoes in the side chapels include views of the Baptism of Christ, the Last Judgment and the Creation. The chapels themselves are my favorite architectural elements in the church.
While the frescoes are quite nice, the capitals of the nave and the hemicycle columns are the most interesting feature of Saint-Révérien. We are preparing a separate post in a couple of days to show them, some of the finest in the Nièvre.
Location: 47.211822° 3.503938°