The Ark of the Covenant shines in a church of the Loire Valley, in France, in the shape of a splendid Byzantine mosaic of the school of Ravenna.
Wealth of the Carolingian era, it brings its fame to the village of Germigny des Prés, located between Orléans and Gien, in the Loiret department, Centre-Val de Loire region.
The biblical representation adorns the vault of its small church apse, which was originally a Carolingian oratory. It was built between 803 and 806 on the order of Theodulf, Charlemagne’s advisor*, bishop of Orléans and abbot of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire.
Place of worship on the estate of the villa which served then as a royal palace to King Charles II “Le Chauve”* of France, this oratory was richly decorated. Unfortunately, it was burned in the ninth century, during the Norman invasions.
Then, rebuilt in church, it suffered several destructions throughout the centuries. Of its original ornaments, only the representation of the Ark of the Covenant has been spared.
It is all the more a stroke of luck that this Byzantine mosaic is unique in France. Pride of The Germignons, the inhabitants of the village, it was restored between 1841 and 1856.
A jewel not to be missed during a visit to the Loiret!
* Charles The Great
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