The radiant abbey of La Chaise-Dieu, jewel of the heritage of Haute-Loire, is the witness of a rich past that we tell you through three stories enriched by scientific research.

Three incredible stories around the Abbey of La Chaise-Dieu

Danse macabre seen in a new light

This painting is part of the funeral paintings of the 2021th century, a period which was preceded by plague epidemics, famines and wars which changed society's relationship to death. The painting is in the form of sketched strokes that have been given a red tint. If for a long time the work was considered unfinished, a study carried out in XNUMX suggests that it could have been completed but that its climatic environment and old unfortunate restorations would not have allowed a complete state of conservation.

Another study carried out in 2016 by an archaeologist also proposed the hypothesis that the Danse macabre would not be an isolated painting, but part of an iconographic program, which in the north aisle of the abbey would also include a painting above the recumbent statue of Smaragde de Vichy and the remains of a painting of a Last Judgment. The study even goes so far as to consider that the painting could be read in the opposite direction to that usually proposed. The dance thus first involving the bottom of society up to the most dignitaries towards death, after which the presence of Adam and Eve would remind everyone of the original sin.

Jacqueline Picasso and the Chaise-Dieu Festival

Picasso's last wife had a real affection for La Chaise-Dieu and its festival where she organized in 1981 and 1985 two exhibitions dedicated to the works of the illustrious Pablo Picasso. It is because of this same attachment that in 1983, it offered the municipality of La Chaise-Dieu the sum of one million two hundred thousand francs so that the latter could acquire the Maison du Cardinal de Rohan, the last building in the abbey to have been built, at the end of the XNUMXth century.

The donation contained a clause which provided that the building would be “assigned exclusively to activities in the fields of painting, sculpture, classical dance or music, to the exclusion of any other activity. It was precisely in the Maison du Cardinal, restored after three years of work, that the La Chaise-Dieu festival team came to settle permanently in 2016. The donor's wishes were thus respected!

The Legend of the Echo Hall at the Chaise-Dieu

This room with its magnificent greyscale decor has exceptional acoustics: if you sit in two opposite angles, you can distinctly hear the whispers of your partner without the rest of the room hearing about your secrets... Legend has it that this particularity allowed monks to confess lepers without fear of contagion.

If this one seems to have little historical foundation and that the acoustic phenomenon is well known – the sounds are conducted and reflected along the diagonals of the vault – the story has contributed for many decades to the tourist reputation of the abbey. Incredible but very true, this room, whose purpose we do not know when it was built by the Maurist monks at the end of the 70th century, seems to have served as a laundry room at the time of the Revolution. Restored in the late 2018s and in XNUMX, the room was able to regain its original layout and decor.

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