The Saint-Sever church’s “treasure”

The Saint-Sever church is nestled in an alley in the fishermen’s neighbourhood. It is a haven of peace and spirituality with harmonious proportions which immediately inspires a sentiment of comfort.

The church as it stands today is built on the foundations of a primitive church, destroyed in the 18th century then rebuilt in the 15th century, and used for religious practice since 1499. It is under the protection of Saint-Sever – a rich Syrian traveller with very strong devotion who gave his wealth to help the Agde population at the time of the barbaric invasions.

This church is home to one of the most precious masterpieces of Agde heritage: the Saint-Christ – a wooden Renaissance sculpture which represents Christ on the cross. Situated to the right of the apse, the crucifix is a pure model of divine expression, unquestionably the work of an experienced artist.

“Research carried out over several years has confirmed certain indisputable findings. The Saint-Sever Christ is a concentration of all the characteristics of Italian 15th century Renaissance sculpture: extremely exact morphological detail, the venous system, bones, muscles, facial expressions and the amplification of body posture using “contrapposto” – where priority is given to movement, a sign of the beginnings of Tuscan Mannerism. It includes all the criteria typical of young Michelangelo. “

The origin of this work of art remains an enigma but it could be attributed to Michelangelo!

Worshipped since the end of the 15th century, this sculpture is – according to tradition passed from generation to generation – the work of a young man who became Michelangelo over the centuries.

According to Monsieur Jules Cruells-Capèce Minutolo, a Saint-Christ historian: “The young artist who came to fulfil the order for a crucifix refused any offers of food and remained isolated, refusing contact with the outside world; reminiscent of the young Michelangelo in Florence, in the Santo Spirito underground galleries with the monks… until his disappearance, when he left behind him, on the ground of his cell, a work of beauty ‘worthy of the chisel of an Angel'”.

This “Palladium” has protected the Agde population for 500 years

The Saint-Christ has an eventful past – “it has escaped total destruction three times”, declared Monsieur Cruells-capèce Minutolo*. Placed in the church of “the Marine”, it protects seafarers but also the rest of the Agde population who are very attached to it, which is demonstrated particularly during Holy Week.

It is part of a procession on Maundy Thursday when the congregation carries it through the nave of the church. At the end of the day a procession continues into the centre of the village, carried by the brotherhood of Saint-Christ d’Agde. Fishermen, jousters and wine growers also play the role of porter in this age-old ceremony, steeped in religious fervour, which brings together many Agde inhabitants.

©Michel Desnos

Discover the Saint-Sever church and the Saint-Christ

The town of Agde’s Heritage mission proposes a “guided discovery” of the Saint-Sever church during Summer. This church is also open on other occasions and for traditional celebrations such as the Fishermen’s Festival and the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday ceremonies.

©Natacha Durrieu

*In his DVD “Une énigme vieille de 500 ans enfin résolue” (A 500 year old enigma finally resolved), J. Cruells-Capèce Minutolo summarises the findings of research made into the history of the Saint-Christ.

For more information

Les Amis d’Agde – c/o J. Cruells-Capèce Minutolo – 53 bis rue Sadi Carnot – 34300 AGDE