Espalion Statue Honours anonymous Landmark Masons along Pilgrams Way to Compostela

At Espalion, in the Aveyron department, 93 kms east of Figeac, a memorial now marks the work of anonymous master masons who built the abbey at Conques and other masterpieces along one of the pilgrimage routes to Saintiago de Compostela in Spain.

Le monument des bâtisseurs à Espalion (Screen grab France 3)

Le monument des bâtisseurs à Espalion (Screen grab France 3)

The St. Foy abbey-church at Conques was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1998, as part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France. Watch the France 3 reportage on the statue and some of the reactions of modern day pilgrims on the route.

Conques was built in the middle ages as a sanctuary for religious communities fleeing the Saracens in Spain.  In 11th century the abbey’s Saint Foy became the patron saint of the crusade for the Christian reconquest or reconquista when the Catholic monarchs of Castille drove the Moors out of the Iberian Peninsula and ended the Islamic invasion of the Europe of that time.

Now according to a reportage by France 3 TV, a statue has been erected at Espalion to pay tribute to the anonymous masons that have marked one of the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela, or Saint-Jacques -de-Compostelle, as the sanctuary is known in French.

Among the works of art now commemorated are monuments like Le Puy Cathedral or smaller walls and stone bridges — some now in decay — along the route.

The statue by artist Nicolas Clerget, is a human-sized stone mason, with a chisel in one hand and a mallet in the other. It stands on the banks of the Lot river, facing the Old Palace and the Old Bridge.

It is designed to catch the attention at this pilgrim stopover, of the thousands of walkers who each year take this route to Compostela, and also to salute the anonymous builders that have marked their route with magnificent structures such as Le Puy Cathedral , the Dômerie Aubrac,  Conques or the Old Bridge at Espalion.

According to Wikipedia the Dômerie Aubrac, also called Aubrac hospital , is a former monastery in the village of Aubrac high on the Aubrac plateau in the Aveyron. It  was founded between 1108 and 1125 by the abbot of Conques on the initiative of Adalard, a wellknown Flemish character, and over the centuries became a leading political and economic player in the region. Apart from its function of care for the sick and needy , the hospital is an important stopover on the via Podiensis , one of the routes to Compostela .

Le Puy Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral and a national monument found in Le Puy-en-Velay, Auvergne. It has been a centre of pilgrimage in its own right since before the time of Charlemagne, as well being part of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Since 1998 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Video: Reporting Florian Rouliès and Dominique Cantrelle

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