Video: The Pilgrimage Road

Bénévent l’Abbaye and Saint Goussaud

An Artsymbol Production

Music by Martin A Smith

Duration 2:02

On the way between La Souterraine and Saint-Léonard, pilgrims could venerate a relic of the Apostle Bartholomew.

In the early twelfth century an Augustinian priory founded in 1080 had received the donation of a relic of the skin of the Apostle from Bartholomew’s shrine at Benevento in southern Italy. Henceforth it became known as Bénévent l’Abbaye.

Most likely, Bénévent was already being used by Compostelan pilgrims travelling towards Limoges but the acquisition of Bartholomew’s relics turned the insignificant priory into a important halt on the road.

By the middle of the century a new much larger church was being constructed to accommodate the inflow of pilgrims.

The church is typical of the Limousin style, built out of the local granite and similar to the one at La Souterraine.

Likewise, the western entrance has a polylobed archway of Hispano-Moorish influence reflecting Bénévent’s position on the road to the Spanish shrine.

Saint Bartholomew had carried out his Apostolic Mission in Asia Minor and according to his legend, had received martyrdom by being flayed alive.

Gregory of Tours recounts how the skin and bones of the saint had been miraculously washed ashore on the island of Lipari off the Sicilian coast. They were subsequently transferred to Benevento and this tradition as well as the story of his martydom account for the relics at Bénévent being of the Apostle’s skin.