If we go by car, it takes us no more than ten minutes. If we walk, it will take us just under an hour. Either way, the church of Saint-Michel at Lamaguère is about four and a half kilometres away. For simplicity and tranquility, you can’t do better!
The church dates all the way back to the XIIth century, making it maybe 900 years old. The nearby château was once the property of the bishop of Auch.
Although the building’s apse (abside) [in the photo above] is semi-circular, its bell-tower (clocher) [in the photo below] is a flat vertical wall. This follows the tradition of having a church’s entrance at the opposite end of the building end to the altar (autel). A church altar is usually at the east end of the building.
You can see from the building’s near-absence of windows that this is almost a fortified (fortifié) church. This part of the world was relatively dangerous at the time the church was built.
The symbols above both of the entrances to the church give an indication of the antiquity of Lamaguère’s church. They consist of the Chi-Rho (le chrisme) of the Emperor Constantine of Rome, drawn in a circle. Variations of this symbol can be seen on churches and crosses in parts of Scotland and Ireland as well. Here is a larger version:
The other Chi-Rho is above the church’s main doorway, hidden in shade in the photograph below:
The church and its adjacent château and presbytery (presbytère) occupy one side of the river Arrats. On the other side of the river is the rest of this tiny village. The place gives a wonderful impression of time having stood still.