This Sunday we are in Saint-Martin-le-Beau a small village on the D40/ D140 road between Chenonceaux and Montlouis sur Loire - not a village most travellers to the Loire Valley will visit but no less interesting for that. The église is in the heart of the village overpowering, as intended, its surroundings. The facade gives the impression of a symmetrical building, so once inside you expect the now familiar naive consisting of a main central bay leading to the alter and apse,with two identical side bays.
This is almost what you get - but not quite!
The first church, primitive as it then was, was built here in the 10th century to honour St.Martin and replaced with a more befitting building in the twelfth century.
Inside is adorned with some fine carvings,hangings and paintings.
The stained glass windows inside display the life of the saint.
The sixteenth century addition above the front portal contains an 'oculus' with a 19th century example of stained glass I think by a master craftsman 'Lobin' who is credited with many such windows in Touraine. Its central part depicts the now familiar, to me anyway, act of charity of St. Martin with the surrounding scenes showing other episodes of his life. The bottom two recall the chronicled event in 903 when the area was under attack from the Normans and almost defeated when the clergy came up with the idea of boldly carrying the shrine of St. Martin in a procession in front of their assailants this act of defiance apparently had them turning on their heels and fleeing!
As ever it is the outside the church where you witness its history by additions (and subtractions!) over the centuries.
The rear of the church flies in the face of its symmetrical front with a hybrid display of its history.
Inside it's not all about St.Martin...there's Joan of course!
If you want to see some fine detail of the front portal and other areas of the church check out the photographs here: http://www.mesvoyagesenfrance.com/D37/StMartin-beau.html