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Abbey church Saint-Sébastien

A Merovingian foundation

Manglieu is home to one of the oldest monastic foundations in Auvergne. It is attributed to Genès, Bishop of Clermont in the 7th century, who owned land in Manglieu. A text written by one of his successors at the beginning of the following century gives us a description of the monastic establishment. The monastery was enclosed by a fence with three gates, and included two churches, one dedicated to the apostles (the future church of Saint-Sébastien) and the other to Mary. The author praises the beauty of the sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin, which he says included a tall pentagonal tower « shining with remarkable brilliance ». Excavations carried out in the 1960s in the former church of Notre-Dame, a short distance from the abbey church, unearthed the remains of a building dating from the Merovingian period, which seem to confirm this description.

An eventful history

Almost nothing remains of the convent buildings of the former Benedictine abbey, with the exception of the remains of the Romanesque cloister, set against the north wall of the church and now privately owned. The abbey church itself has been rebuilt or restored many times. The nave, remodelled in a late Gothic style, is preceded by a Romanesque narthex topped by a tribune. The choir, made up of two long bays opening onto an apse and forming a flat chevet on the outside, is characteristic of a pre-Romanesque construction. It is the oldest part of the building, likely the successor to the original sanctuary.
Placed under the Benedictine rule, Saint-Sébastien de Manglieu Abbey was knocked down in 1777 and the convent buildings were sold as national property during the Revolution. Shortly afterwards, the church of Saint-Sébastien became the new parish church of Manglieu

Remarkable furnishings

The church is home to a dozen remarkable works listed or classified as Historical Monuments. These include two sarcophagus lids, one of which, decorated with a Chrism, dates from late Antiquity, as well as the bowl of a 12th-century sarcophagus decorated with arcatures. The Romanesque capitals supporting the stoup are also noteworthy.
The ensemble also features gilded or polychrome wooden statues from the 17th and 18th centuries, representing the Virgin Mary, Saint Anne and Saints Sébastian, Roch and Étienne. In the past, these saints were invoked against illnesses.

Image captions

  • View of the Romanesque narthex and tribune
  • View of the south aisles and flying buttresses
  • Sarcophagus basin and lids preserved in the narthex


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