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Cloister, St Philibert, Tournus, France

St Philibert in Tournus is one of the most perfect examples of French Romanesque architecture.

My discovery of this church was one of those serendipitous experiences you can only have when you are out on the open road with few plans, but a good bit of curiosity and a willingness to explore.

I knew nothing about the medieval town of Tournus as I hitch hiked across France the summer of 1987 on my way from England to Jerusalem, but around lunchtime one day I found myself in the little town of Tournus. I got some lunch and decided to wander around.

I found myself in this most magnificent Romanesque church tucked in this rather obscure town. It turns out that it was once the great abbey of St Philibert in Burgundy.

tournus 2

I was totally blown away by the immense, austere beauty of the church. I was there on a weekday afternoon, and I had the place almost to myself. I wandered through the  monastic church, explored the ancient crypt, and then as i was leaving discovered the beautiful Romanesque image of Our Lady. The impact of this church was a stepping stone to my becoming Catholic and the experience in prayer before the Virgin moved me closet to accepting the fullness of her role in eternal salvation and the providence of God.