This shrine was made between 1225 and 1250. It contains the relics of Viance, who was born in Anjou and died in lower Limousin in the 7th century. It is made of wood and covered with thin copper plates which were shaped, covered with gold, and enameled.
On the front side, in the middle upper part, a Christ in Majesty appears, in an almond-shaped opening, symbolizing the passage from one world to another. He is surrounded by the emblems of the 4 evangelists: an angelr for Matthew, an eagle for John, a lion for Mark and a bull for Luke. On the lower part of the almond shape are a Virgin Mary and child. They are surrounded by angels, two of which are now missing. There are eight apostles standing beneath arches. A ninth apostle is standing on the panel on the shrine’s left hand side.
All of these embossed characters were shaped before being placed on the shrine. They were covered with a thin coat of gold and placed in the centre of enameled blue plates.
On the back of the shrine, there are engraved and enameled medallions. The three upper medallions represent scenes from The Passion of the Christ: the Flagellation, the Crucifixion and the appearance of the angel of Resurrection. The three lower medallions represent episodes of Viance’s death. To the left is an angel announcing Viance’s death to his friend Savinien. In the middle, Viance’s hearse is being pulled by an ox and a bear. According to the legend, the bear ate the second ox and took its place. The saint-to-be’s funeral is represented on the right side of the shrine. There is an opening on the shrine’s right gable.
The holy oil container is a few decades older than the shrine. It is decorated using the very same medieval « champlevé » technique. “Champlevé” was a typical Limousin skill back in the early 13th century, the golden age of Limousin enamel.
Learn about the architecture of Saint-Viance church, whose oldest part dates back to the 12th century, thanks to this audio sequence.
A remarkable 13th century enamelled shrine and holy oil container can be found in Saint Viance church. Discover these two gorgeous objects thanks in this…
14. Champlevé enamel
This short documentary tells you all about the champlevé enamel technique. This particular skill was a Limoges speciality during the middle ages.