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Things to See in the Languedoc:   Historic Abbeys, Priories, Monastries and Convents:   St-Papoul Abbey

The Abbey was founded in Carolingian times.  It was initially dedicated to St. Peter, but later rededicated to St. Sernin of Toulouse.

At the begining of the eleventh century the abbey adopted the rule of St. Benedict.  It became dependent on the Abbey of Alet in 1119, around the time that the prent abbey church was built.  It has a single wide nave with a barrel roof.  The apse has two side apses, one of which had been extended to create a chapel.  One of the crude capitals in the choir represents a sinner with a wooden leg, a reminder of the Roman Church's traditional teaching that illness and physical disability is caused by sin.  Other capitals in the main apse are attributed to the Master of Cabestany

In 1317, Pope John XXII made it the seat of a bishop, and thus a cathedral church.  Also in the fourteenth century the cloister was built.  The Cathedral suffered depredations of routiers in 1361, and further damage in 1595 during the wars of religion. 

It was resored and the bishop's palace rebuilt in the 17th and the 18th centuries.  The French Revolution put an end to the bishopric and the cathedral became an ordinary parish church.  Up to then Saint-Papoul had had 34 bishops. 

You can visit the Abbey every day of the week from Easter to All Saints' Day, ie the begining of November (Off-season visits are by appointment only).  There is a permanent exhibition inside the monks' refectory.  Plaster casts from works of the Master of Cabestany (and from romanesque sculptures) and are displayed there.

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