Thursday, October 25, 2012

St. Martin's Church - Colmar

St. Martin's Church, or Eglise Saint-Martin in French, is the primary Roman Catholic church in Colmar, Haut-Rhin, France. 
It was built between 1234 and 1365, in gothic style, as the church of a college (a group of persons united together under the canon law of the Catholic Church) devoted to the cult of Martin of Tours. I first became acquainted with St. Martin and shared his story in my post on St. Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava. We saw him again in a sculpture on the facade at Basel Munster. St. Martin in Colmar replaced a Carolingian church built around 1000 and a later Romanesque church.  St. Martin was a collegiate church, meaning that the worship was conducted by a college of canons, a non-monastic group of clergy, often presided over by a dean or provost. It is governed similarly to a cathedral, but is not the seat of a bishop and has no diocesan responsibilities. I assume that this language was the origin of the language used in the current educational system where a college is governed by a dean or provost.  It is built of beautiful yellow sandstone 
(with splotches of red and pink) from Rouffach, 
in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains, about 9 miles away and a tile roof. In sections of the roof the diamond shape is formed by green tiles and they are filled with rust tiles, 
while in other sections, the diamond shape is formed by rust tiles and they are filled with green tiles. 
In the section below, the tiles have been glossed over with a white substance, a consequence of the stork sitting on a nest above them. 
In this clock on the outside, note the Roman numeral "IV" is actually a "IIII," apparently something that occurred in very old clocks. 
A tympanum above one of the doorways. 
A fire in 1572 resulted in changes to the bell tower: a Rennaissance style helmet was added. 
During the French Revolution, much of the interior furniture was destroyed, although some medieval altars and statues survive, 

as well as a 13th century stained glass window which features the head of a beardless Christ, a rarity. I could not find any pictures of the beardless Christ which leads me to wonder if this is the referenced stainglass? 
However, I think there is a beard, in this case, it just hangs in-artfully below the jaw. 

I was a little taken back, after the fact, to learn that the church has two "Judensaue" or "Jewish sow" on the outside. A Judensaue is an image of a Jew or Jews in obscene contact (suckling, licking, having intercourse, eating excrement, etc.) with a female pig, which is an unclean animal in Judaism. One of the Judensaue is in the shape of a gargoyle
and the other is a corner sculpture of a portal. 
There is apparently a long history of Jewish persecution in this area, going back to the Middle Ages. I got the pictures from the internet. Finally, a picture of the inside
and candles burning inside. 
Colmar is an absolutely beautiful, old city. A view of some houses across the way is just a small sample of some of the beautiful structures in the city.


  1. Really interesting information, Bob.

  2. I love that somewhat primitive stained glass window depicting the deposition of the body of Christ. It has an ancient-modern look. It could be 13th century, it could be 21st century. The "Judensaue" images are a bit horrifying. The fact that they are part of a Christian church makes them even worse.

    1. I suppose that could be the one, because Christ does look beardless, but to me it looks extremely modern. But maybe you are right and it is 13th century? I didn't even consider that as a possibility.