THE LARGEST MONOLITHIC CHURCH IN EUROPE!
- #1 REASON TO COME TO SAINT-EMILION! -
38 m in lenght and 12 m high: the monolithic church - that is to say, built out of a single block of stone - is definitely worth a visit. Stories and legends intermingle in this incredible monument: you'll have to see it to believe it!
> YOU WILL BE IMPRESSED: by its gigantic proportions!
The monolithic church is an underground religious building dug at the beginning of the 12th century in impressive proportions.
If it reveals itself to the visitor by the position of a 68-metre high bell tower, it then hides behind the elegance of three large "windows" in the façade and a Gothic portal that is often closed (because it is only on a guided tour that you can enter this underground church for an unforgettable experience). The church is as surprising as it is fragile!
In the heart of the city, the monolithic church recalls the religious activity of the city in the Middle Ages and intrigues by its unusual design.
> YOU MIND WILL BE BLOWN: by thr technical prowess!
The name of this church alone underlies its "out of the ordinary" character. The monolithic noun derives its roots from the ancient Greek "mono" meaning "unique" and "lithos" meaning "stone"; qualifying a building dug directly into the limestone plateau of Saint-Emilion.
Indeed, for nearly a millennium, between the 9th and 19th centuries, stone quarries multiplied in the limestone plateau of Saint-Emilion. Quarrymen worked tirelessly to extract millions of blocks of stone for the major construction sites from Saint-Emilion to Bordeaux.
This exploitation has left an immense network of 80 ha of underground galleries, forming a giant maze of almost 200 km in total.
The monolithic church remains today the most emblematic building of this limestone extraction. It was surely commissioned to accompany the development of the city around a pilgrimage activity to the tomb of Saint-Emilion.
> YOU WILL GO BACK IN TIME: with the monk Emilion!
In the village bearing his name, the memory of Emilion is never far away!
This Breton, born in Vannes and famous for his miracles, decided in the 8th century to leave his native land to retire and devote himself to prayer. Following the Atlantic coast, he became a monk and then settled in Ascumbas, the former name of the city of Saint-Emilion.
Joined by a few Benedictine disciples, he founded the first religious community there and evangelised the population. Thus was created the great monastic city to which the faithful gave his name a few centuries later.
The holy man is said to have died in the year 767, after having spent the last seventeen years of his life in his hermitage, a simple grotto located in the heart of the village, a few steps from the monollithic church where his relics were preserved for a time before mysteriously disappearing ...
> YOU WILLE BE PUZZLED: by the legend of Emilion's chair!
Little known to the general public, the Hermitage of Saint-Emilion is a magical place. In this cave forming a natural shelter is Emilion's chair or meditation seat, where the monk of the same name used to pray.
Over the years and through stories, this seat has been given the name "Seat of Fertility". Legend has it that a woman wishing to have a child just has to sit on this chair and pray to Saint-Emilion to become pregnant within a year.
- "Simple myth will say the most skeptical! " -
Except that every year the Tourist Office receives dozens of birth announcements from the many women who come from all over the world especially to sit on this "Seat of Fertility"!
Here are some of Emilion's babies, as we affectionately call them, from the last few years:
> In 2023 : Axel, Siméon, Gaëlle, Thomas, Léo
> In 2022 : Léandre, Robin, Joséphine, Henri, Gabriel
> In 2021 : Manon, Evan, Augustin, Ugo, Emilio, Lénaïc, Apoline, Ava, Jules
> In 2020: Nael, Margaux, Noemi, Violette, Ignatius Jameson, Julia
> In 2019: Jules, Martin et Maxime, Mattéo Thiên An, Gabriel, Ryden, Emiliano, Emilie, Jenna, Elisa, Maëlle, Emilie et Gabriel-Émilion, Léo, Eloan, Robin, Emma, Déva et Céleste, Felipe, Arthur Emile, Maël Emilion
> In 2018: Lou, Agathe, Arthur, Ines, Oscar, Marcus, Athénaïs, Antoine, Thomas, Nora, Aiyana, Léon, Lisa, Juliette
> In 2017: Gabin, Zoe, Tiago, Alexandre, Jean, Jules, Paul, Arthur, Elise, Helena, Nina, Frédéric-Emilion
> In 2016: Frances Emilion, Gaël, Lucas, Naël, Sara, Loan, Isabella, Eugénie, Camille, Arthur
> In 2015: Léopold, Noémie, Victor, Romane, Estelle, Lili-Rose, Victor, Anae, Gabin, Raphaël, Jane, Marta, Alberto, Alexandre
> In 2014: Ulysse, Emilien, Alizée, Alix, Gaël, Enzo, Lena, Ellia Saverianna
> In 2013: Lena, Darius, Shiori, Anna, Inès
> In 2012: Vittoria Rosaria Emiliana