Eglises de la Dordogne / Churches of the Dordogne

DSCF0386Like most of France, the Dordogne has a wide variety of beautiful small and large DSCF0443village churches.  Most have been built since the 11 century as the Vikings made frequent raids up the Dordogne River plundering and burning many of the Roman churches .  During the War of Religion ( 1562 – 1598 )  many Aquitaine  churches were destroyed or damaged in the  fighting between the Catholic and Protestant  rulers . But fortunately, most were rebuilt and today  retain their charm, peacefulness and simplicity.

The Dordogne Valley was one of the many pilgram paths to  St Jacque de Campostelle / St James of Compostella  in Spain with literally millions making the pilgrimage to Compostella during the middle ages.  Many came through the Dordogne Valley and the Church had  Abbeys  and hostels along the way to offer a simple meal and a bed for the night to the weary travellers. Cadouin, today a World Heritage Site claimed the ownership of the Shroud of Jesus until 1934 when it became apparent the Catholic Church supported the existence of  perhaps too many ‘ Shrouds of Jesus ‘ .    This particular shroud came from the fall of the ancient Eygptian city, Antioch in the year 1098 and was a death shroud, but not of Jesus. This shroud was brought to Cadouin by Knights of the Templar who were a very influential  in ancient Aquitaine.  Testing by an Arabic Scholar in 1931 confirmed the shroud was engraved with Arabic symbols and writings of the 9th century. The Turin Shroud was also brought to Turin by Knights of the Templar.  Their piety and devotion to their Christian beliefs was the strength of their order. The wide variety of attractive local church architecture  creates an opportunity to spend  a leisurly day driving around the area and enjoying  the scenery of  the villages. Today, some of these villages are almost empty with no school or boulangerie, yet judging by the size of their local church, in past years these villages supported a large and wealthy local population.