Vézelay, Sainte Madeleine: Detail, central jamb sculpture, the main portal



The subject of this portal (dated ca.1130) is the Pentecostal Mission of the Apostles, which also reflected on the contemporary Crusades. The lintel portrays the “ungodly” people of the world. Much of this was defaced during the French Revolution.

Former Cluniac abbey and pilgrimage church in Burgundy, France. Founded in the mid-9th century by Girart de Roussillon. Vézelay’s prosperity in the 11th and 12th centuries was based on its possession of the putative relics of St Mary Magdalene; the abbey declined from the late 13th century. The iconography of sculpture at Vézelay relates to the Crusades. A serious fire in 1120 appears to have necessitated the rebuilding of the nave, although the transept and choir, which may have suffered little damage, were retained. The polychrome masonry of the transverse arches, employing various limestones from local quarries, is visually striking and may derive from Spanish sources (e.g. the Mezquita, Córdoba). The restoration of St. Madeleine under the auspices of Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc began in 1840.


Attribute NameValues
Alternate Title
  • Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

  • G. Massiot & cie

  • Sculpture, French

  • Architecture

  • Churches

Date Created
  • 1910-01-01

Date Digitized
  • 2007-01-01

Cultural Context
  • Romanesque

Place of Creation
  • Vézelay, Burgundy, France: Yonne département

  • +47.466389+3.748611

  • Vézelay

Departments and Units
Member of
Temporal Coverage
  • before or circa 1910

Record Visibility Public
Content License


Collections Featuring this Image
Architectural Lantern Slides of France


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