Introduction to the Cluniac Abbey of Saint-Pierre and its cloister, Moissac, France

Although only tradition and legend suggest that a church existed on this site as early as the late 5th century, some documentary evidence indicates that a monastery was on this site at the beginning of the 11th century. In 1030 part of the church collapsed and later in 1042, the Viscount of Lomagne set fire to the monastic buildings. Maurice Scellès explains that after Durand de Bredons became Abbot of Moissac in 1048, the property of the monastery was recovered and with its affiliation to the Cluniac order, new building projects were initiated including a new church, consecrated in 1063, and the cloister, finished in 1100. Durand was named Bishop of Toulouse in 1059 and the influence of this outstanding cleric made Moissac one of the most prestigious abbeys in France.

This abbey became a major stage on the via Podiensis, one of the major pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. See Ste. Foy at Conques as well. Not only is the abbey known for its incredible sculptural program, illustrated on these web pages, but in the medieval period in the scriptoria the scribes and illuminators were creating manuscripts of great beauty and fame. This wealthy and important monastery had its greatest influence during the 11th and 12th centuries.


Index to Images of the Cluniac Abbey of Saint-Pierre and its cloister, Moissac, France

(171 images; all of the images were photographed in 2007)



Tympanum, South Porch


(14 images)

Trumeau and jambs, South Porch


(20 images)

Side walls, South Porch


(18 images)

Westwork, south porch interior, interior of church


(15 images)

Introduction to the Cloister


(6 images)

The North Gallery, the Cloister


2 pages (26 images)

The East Gallery, the Cloister


2 pages (32 images)

The South Gallery, the Cloister


(11 images)

The West Gallery, the Cloister


(19 images)

Adjacent rooms and museum entryway, the Cloister


(10 images)

Works Consulted or Quoted:
M. F. Hearn. Romanesque Sculpture: The Revival of Monumental Stone Sculpture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1981.
Scellès, Maurice. Visiting Moissac Abbey. Éditions Sud Ouest, 2000. [official guidebook] Meyer Schapiro. The Sculpture of Moissac. NY: Braziller, 1985.
M. Alison Stones. Extensive medieval website.



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Click here to see the home page of Bluffton College.


© 2007 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.