December 18, 2023

Saint-Pierre-Azif receives the Rubans du Patrimoine award

On Friday December 8, 2023, the commune of Saint-Pierre-Azif officially received the Prix Départemental des Rubans du Patrimoine, awarded last June for the renovation of its museum church, listed as a Monument Historique since 1926. The competition recognizes and rewards communes and intercommunities that have renovated or enhanced their built heritage. The restoration and enhancement of Saint-Pierre church is part of the municipality's desire to extend the village's cultural and tourist appeal. A number of events are now being planned.

From left to right - C.Lecluze (Fondation du Patrimoine); M.Rollet (Fédération BTP Calvados); M.Delarue (Caisse d'Epargne); P.Augier (Coeur Côte Fleurie); F.Lefranc (Maire St-Pierre-Azif); Gibon (UAMC); A.Gadenne (Dpt Calvados); A.Marie (couvreur); X.d'Alençon (DLPG architect); S.Taillepied (R.T.N.) - © Naïade Plante

An ambitious but essential project

Atelier Saint-Benoît will carry out the diagnosis in 2014: deformed framework, erosion, frost, capillary rise, roof leaks - the wear and tear of time is seriously threatening the church's future. The work involved is colossal, and the cost unaffordable for a commune of less than 200 inhabitants. It was against this backdrop that the Friends of the Church association was created. This was followed by four years of fundraising and administrative paperwork, led by Françoise Lefranc, Mayor of Saint-Pierre-Azif, who was very involved with her municipal team, and actively supported by the commune's inhabitants. In 2019, the works of art are secured (nine paintings by painters of the Flemish school, remarkable pieces of ancient and modern religious art...), and the work can begin.


Naïade Plante
Naïade Plante
Delphine Barré

Renovation: a true masterpiece

Xavier d'Alençon, architect with L'Atelier Saint-Benoît, took charge of the renovation work, drawing on the expertise of the various trades of the Compagnons du Devoir et du Tour de France. For two years, they took it in turns to work, making good use of the ancestral knowledge passed down to them to rehabilitate without destroying and restore without betraying. It's quite an art!
The building's roofs had to be redone, starting with the highest, the Lombard Tower, with its 18,000 slates. The nave and sacristy vaults were rebuilt using chestnut staves. Here again, the Compagnons demonstrated their excellence by installing 4,500 staves and 60,000 nails. The supports and framework were completely overhauled. The wood, wall cracks and choir vaults were treated to clean, seal, replace and secure the weathered edifice. The stonemasons have to match the work of the cathedral builders, so that the new carvings blend into the edifice.
Two stained-glass windows were also renovated: that of Saint-Pierre and that of the Miraculous Peach. Renovation of the stained-glass windows made it possible to identify them: they come from the workshop of Henri Mazuet in Reims, a famous glass painter from Normandy. It has also been found that some of the windows are older, dating from the end of the 15th century.
Residents are invited to celebrate the rebirth of their church at the official inauguration on June 25, 2022. An entire community is taking emotional possession of its heritage, evoking future celebrations, baptisms and weddings.

Naïade Plante

A competition that highlights the richness of our built heritage

Organized by the Fédération Française du Bâtiment, the Fondation du Patrimoine, the Association des maires de France et des présidents d'intercommunalité, the Fédération nationale des Caisses d'Epargne and the Groupement français des entreprises de restauration de Monuments Historiques, "Les Rubans du Patrimoine" is a national competition which, through the choice of regional juries and a national jury, rewards the initiatives of communes and intercommunal structures in favor of their built heritage, regardless of period, type or size. It rewards exemplary restoration projects of particular technical and cultural heritage interest. Each year, the Rubans du Patrimoine awards showcase the inventiveness, creativity and tenacity of those involved. Since its creation in 1995, 5304 communes have already taken part, and 1864 prizes have been awarded, including 1465 departmental prizes, 214 regional prizes and 195 national prizes.

A precious heritage, witness to past centuries

The architecture of Saint-Pierre church dates back to three eras!
The choir, a former seigniorial chapel, dates back to the 12th century, as does the Lombard bell tower. The latter features a wide porch leading to a Renaissance double door. The central trumeau is adorned with two stone statues.
Late 15th-century for the nave, whose framework appears to be an inverted ship's hull, lit by eight luminous windows.
17th century for the hexagonal sacristy, whose openings are widely splayed.

The wooden nave, in the shape of an inverted ship's hull, houses nine paintings by painters of the Flemish school from the collection of Jean-Pierre Le Chanteur, an avid traveler and art lover. Born in Saint-Pierre-Azif in 1760, this marine secretary collected paintings by Flemish masters during his career in Antwerp. The paintings :
- Adoration of the Magi: painting on wood, copy after the engraving by Lucas Vosterman of the painting by Rubens kept in the church of Saint Jean de Malines in Belgium.
- Saint Jerome writing: oil on canvas circa 1620-1630 (Flemish Caravaggesque movement).
- Christ meeting his mother: attributed to Jacob Jordaens, oil on canvas circa 1650.
- Glorification of the Virgin: entourage of Erasmus Quellin, an important collaborator of Rubens (1607-1678) oil on canvas.
- Jesus served by angels: unknown artist
- Triptych - Adoration of the Magi, Circumcision, Nativity: anonymous artist, oil on wood 16th century. Long wrongly attributed to Lucas de Leyden.
- Crucifixion: attributed to Gillis Baeckereel (1572-av. 1662), large canvas depicting Christ on the cross.
- On either side of the choir, two Beguines by Jean Van Cleef (1646-1716).

In addition to this astonishing collection, the church also houses remarkable pieces of ancient and modern religious art, such as the relief Stations of the Cross from 1887, statues and a 14th-century recumbent.

Naïade Plante
Naïade Plante
Thierry Beaucap

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