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Church of Saint Etienne

In 1326, the chapel ‘de Laussimo’ was part of the archpresbytery of Montaut.
In the historic Catholic register ‘le pouillé de Valéri’ it says: ‘In archipresbyteratu Montaldensi: Rector Sancti Stephani et Beate Marie de Canilhaco’.  It is probable that this refers to the Parish of Lauzun.  
The original parish church of Saint Etienne was situated about 2,000 metres outside the town.  This church was partly destroyed during the 16th C (we do not know the cause), and the priestly duties were transferred to the chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption which was in the town.  This chapel was then extended and took the name of Saint Etienne.  The parish cemetery, originally around the old church, was also more or less abandoned, and the inhabitants were buried at the town church.

(extract about the Archpresbytery of Lauzun taken from the historic register of the diocese of Agen for the year 1789, edited in 1894)

This gothic style church as you see it today, has been altered several times, notably in the 16th C and in the Second Empire (1866 to 1871) when the vault was heightened.

Of the original simple roman church, there remain two columns with capitals, below the belltower (one visible from the nave above the tribune).

The magnificent doorway is very late roman, with 7 mouldings in a broken arch (end of 13th C).  It was altered for the worse in the 16th C by the addition of a graceless tympanum, which was decorated with a statue of the Virgin Crowned, carved in wood, 95cm high, which is currently inside the church (see further description below).

The Pulpit

The panels on the stairway are more recent, but those on the top are by the same sculptor as the Altarpiece, dating from 1623.  They represent the Four Evangelists, and the middle one, Charity and Hope.

Altar and Altarpiece

Both come from the old chapel of Notre Dame de la Molo, at the Recollet convent founded at Lauzun in 1623 and destroyed in the Revolution.  They were commissioned by Gabriel Nompar de Caumont, Count of Lauzun, father of the famous Duke of Lauzun.  The maker was a wood sculptor called Tournie from Gourdon in Quercy.

The front of the Altar represents the Adoration of the Magi
‘the three crowned kings, apart from one whose crown is on the ground, offering their gifts to the little child, sitting upright held by his mother.  Joseph is watching from behind Mary, his mantle held by pageboys.  The star is shining above the scene.’

The base is decorated with panels representing:
On the left - Saint Jerome
On the right - a pope
On the sides:  left - a character with a stick in his hand; right - a Recollet monk with a book pressed to his chest

Above the Altar

Two twisted columns rise from each base, from which vine branches with leaves and grapes also rise.  Between these two columns are two statues representing the ‘Annunciation’: on the right, the archangel Gabriel greeting the Virgin Mary who is on the left.

Behind the Altar

The three sections of the chancel are covered with carved panels.
On each side, four pictures of increasing size lead to the main picture.
On the right side, starting at the bottom:  a monk holding a ruler, a Bishop with mitre and crook (some say Saint Amboise), a woman pouring liquid from one container to another, ‘Temperance’ (some say Mary Magdalen), Saint Bartholomew holding in his right hand his hair which has been cut off.
On the left side, starting at the bottom:  Saint Antoine of Padua, a vacant panel which used to contain Bishop Saint Augustin (sadly crumbled to dust during an attempt at restoration), ‘Prudence’ in the form of a woman looking in a mirror, with a serpent at her feet (some say Saint Mary of Egypt), St Paul the Apostle leaning on his martyr’s sword.

The wall at the back:

This wall normally contains a large wood carving (in course of restoration) representing St Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata:
Kneeling in his Franciscan habit, arms outstretched, eyes fixed on the winged crucifix resting in the clouds; his eyes are lost in ecstasy.
His companion, Brother Leo, lifts his right hand above his eyes, as if he cannot bear to look at the amazing brightness of the vision.  The countryside of Verna is crowned by the monastery in the background.

The Altar of the Virgin, on the left

The Black Virgin
Tradition relates that at an unknown date, a gentleman of Lauzun was having some excavations done in the main road, and found a statue of the Blessed Virgin in the middle of a millstone.  This gentleman built a little chapel and a retreat for the hermits on the very spot.  This chapel, called Notre Dame de la Molo, and situated about 80 metres outside the town walls, was given to the Recollet Brothers in 1623 by Gabriel Nompar de Caumont, Count of Lauzun.

The Virgin and Child
She is in polychrome wood, 95cm high and crowned, and holds in her left arm the Infant Jesus, not crowned, and in her right hand a bouquet of roses.
This 15th C statue has been greatly damaged by its exposure on the tympanum of the doorway over many years.

The Christ

This Christ in polychrome wood is a work of the 15th C.
You will note the nobility of the pose, in which one can see the intensity of the suffering endured.  Sadly, the cross is not of the same period, as the Christ was found without its original cross.

The Reliquary
from the Home of the Dukes of Caumont Lauzun

It is 22cm high, and is composed of 3 rectangular crystal tubes.  The tips on the ends of the cross carry the arms of the house of Caumont Lauzun ‘tiercé in bands of gold and azure blue’.
An ancient tradition has it that the relic contained within these crystal tubes (a piece of the true cross) once belonged to Sulpice Sévère, a native of Lauzun, a historian and ecclesiastic scholar of Latin, who received it from his friend Saint Paulin de Nole, with whom he conducted a well known correspondence…
What is certain is that the first mention that we find of this relic is in a passage from the will of the famous Duke of Lauzun, Antonin Nompar of Caumont, made on 5 February 1720: ‘…his great relic of a piece of the true cross of our Lord, which he commands be taken to Lauzun to the chapel of Saint Catherine of the castle of Lauzun’.  His wish was carried out.  At the time of the Revolution, a servant looked after the treasure, and then gave it to Abbot Derras, who in his turn left it to his Abbey, by testament dated 29 May 1858.

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Eglise de Lauzun vue du Château Lauzun has always been a stronghold. Well located on a height, thus having the ability to monitor the surrounding countryside and the access roads, the site of Lauzun was from the Gallo-Roman period the location of an "oppidum". This strong place allowed the occupants to defend the land and outbuildings under their protection. The castle was built  at the end of the sixth century. Serfs and villains settled around and later, the artisans and merchants.
From the twelfth century, Nompar de Caumont were the Lords of Lauzun and it's surrounding lands. A hundred years later, the castle became a fortress with a tower, ramparts, moats and gates at the drawbridge, defended by towers .Two towers still stand inside the village.
Cour intérieure du châteauOver time, adjustments and changes occurred, and the castle was transformed gradually to the Renaissance, in a more comfortable house for Lords.
The Lordship of Lauzun had in the late Middle Ages eighteen churches and chapels, religious buildings but these were unfortunately destroyed or abandoned during the religion wars and then during the french Revolution.
In Saint-Etienne's church, it is still possible to admire the altar and the pulpit to preach dated from the seventeenth century. The sculptor, named Gourdon had received the order from Gabriel Nompar de Caumont, Compte de Lauzun, in 1623 for the chapel Récollets. Disassembled into parts and burnt at the destruction of the chapel, the remains of the altar were recovered in the parish church in the middle of the nineteenth century. There are also a Christ wooden polychrome statue from the Sixteenth century, a first Madonna and child dated from the fifteenth century and a second one, known as "La Mole", dated from the sixteenth century.

Some facts about Lauzun:

église Saint Macaire

In 1300 the archbishop of Bordeaux, Bertrand de Got came to visit its priories. He became Pope Clement V in 1305.

In 1565 Catherine de Medicis and her son, the future King Charles IX, slept at the castle.

In 1570 the Barony became a County.

In 1692 the County of Lauzun became the Duchy of Antonin Nompar de Caumont, the famous Duke of Lauzun (son of Gabriel de Caumont  who died in 1660).

In 1793, Year II of the Republic, Lauzun became one of the nine district towns of Lot et Garonne's department and recieved as well a justice court and a post office.

Some famous characters of Lauzun :

Antonin Nompar de Caumont, Duke of Lauzun had a life full of adventure.

Born in Lauzun in 1633, he was sent by his father to his cousin, the Maréchal de Gramont who enrolled him in one of the many military academies of Paris as simple "Cadet de Gascogne". He had a military career and shall be remembered for his outstanding courage and his great sense of strategy.

Antonin Nompar de Caumont, Duke of Lauzun and Saint-Fargeau, former captain of the company Cents Gentilshommes de la Maison du Roy, captain of the first French company of bodyguards, Governor of the province of Berry, and the cities of Bourges and Issoudun. Colonel General dragons France, Chevalier of the illustrious Order of the Garter in Great Britain.

At Louis XIV's Court, he has been successively and repeatedly favorite and disgraced. Firstly sent to the Bastille, he took his place back at the court, then, served by Madame de Montespan favorite of the king, he has been imprisoned for ten years in the fortress of Pinerolo, where he became the neighbour of Fouquet and the Iron Mask.

Thereafter, he married secretly in 1688 with Anne d'Orléans, known as the Grande Mademoiselle, Duchesse de Montpensier, cousin of Louis XIV. When she died, although 62 years old, he married in 1695 Maréchal de Lorge's 15 years old daughter, Geneviève Durfort de Lorge. He died in 1723 at the age of 90.

Armand Louis de Gontaut-Biron, Duke of Lauzun : Born in Paris on the 13th of april 1747, General Biron was guillotined on 31 December 1793 Place de la Revolution in Paris. He inherited a colossal fortune, he defrayed the Armand Louis de Gontaut-Bironscandalous chronicle of the Court where he was placed by public rumor among the lovers of Marie-Antoinette. He took part in the Independence War of the United States with its "Hussars of Lauzun" under the command of Rochambeau. He was covered with glory at the headquarters of Yorktown in October 1781 which was a decisive victory. (We can admire a painting in the Dome of the U.S. Senate in Washington  DC where the Ducke of Lauzun is with Lafayette and Rochambeau). Deputy in the french General Assembly, he joined the revolution; Lieutenant General in 1792 under the Convention, he commanded the armies of the West against Vendée in 1793. Accused of treason, he was arrested and guillotined.

Pierre Boussion, physician and conventional. Born in Lauzun on the 6th of January 1753, he died in Liège on the 18th of May 1829. Son of a surgeon of Lauzun, he studied in Agen and Bordeaux, graduated physician in Montpellier in 1773 and immediately came to settle in his hometown.

Pierre Boussion

He became a member of the french General Assembly and was part of the deputation sent to the king on  the 31st of December 1790. He joined the National Convention on the 11th of September 1792, was a member of the committee of twelve people on the trial of Louis Capet, the 8 of January 1793 where he voted the death of King Louis XVI. Friend of the Girondins, he was elected to the Council of Elders, the 4 of Brumaire an IV, for the Assembly elections in France and the expiration of his second term, he returned to private life as advisor at the prefecture of Lot et Garonne. Reached by the law of 12 January 1816 against the old conventional rigicides, he left for exile and settled permanently in Liège where he returned to the practice of medicine.

François-Peloubet Chabrier : Born in Lauzun on the 21st of July 1789, he died in Paris on the 23rd of March 1871. Employee for the University's the central administration offices from 1810 to 1815, Inspector for the Academies of Cahors and Toulouse from 1815 to 1821, he became General Archives Guard and refused a promotion to become a State advisor. He told at the time that he had to continue working for the Archives because it was a task given to him by the Emperor. He then became master-advisor for la Cour des Comptes and appointed Senator by imperial decree of the 5th of october 1864. He also became Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor in August 1852.


Vide Grenier des Gasconades 
Vide Grenier 
Eglise St Etienne – Le Retable classé du XVII 

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