Assier, a former commanderie

Saint-Pierre of Assier Church is located in a quiet village near Figeac.

Saint-Pierre of Assier Church
Saint-Pierre of Assier Church

Assier started as a commanderie founded in 1280 by the Knights of the Order of St-John of Jerusalem.

The monks introduced sheep rearing in the region as these animals were able to graze and thrive on the arid land of the surrounding Causses of Quercy.

From these ancient times, Assier has retained a weekly sheep market, as well as a farmers’ market where local producers sell their cereal grains, fruits and chestnuts.

Galiot de Genouillac, lord of Assier

However, the village’s most striking feature is its church, which is listed historical monument.

Saint-Pierre of Assier Church was built in the 1540’s and is the only Renaissance church in the Lot department.

Galiot's castle near Saint-Pierre of Assier Church
Galiot’s castle

That said, this church is more of a shrine dedicated to the glory of Jacques Richard Genouillace aka Galiot de Genouillac, the armourer of the armies of Francois I.

The king held Galiot in such high esteem that he attributed him his victory at Marignan in 1515 and rewarded him generously!

As a result, Galiot became wealthy besides all his expectations and built his castle on the site of the commander‘s fortified house.

Saint-Pierre of Assier Church dedicated to the glory of Galiot

The exterior decoration of Saint-Pierre of Assier Church proves that Galiot also developed a big ego!

Saint-Pierre of Assier Church - castle on frieze
Castle of Assier on frieze

A statue of the Virgin Mary offering her blessings to the villagers that sits in a niche above a side door is the only nod to Christianity!

Indeed, all other sculptural features are dedicated to the glory of Galiot and the weapons of war he supplied to Francois I.

The tympanum represents Galiot’s insignia being offered to the Virgin, while the angels carved on the door carry messages that read “Long Live Galiot”.

But the low-relief frieze that runs around the church, at about the height of the doors, says it all!

Saint-Pierre of Assier Church - tympanum
Tympanum

It indeed depicts the battle swords Galiot supplied, his cannons spewing fire and death and cannonballs lying ready and defending his castle.

Even the interior keystones bear his coat of arms.

As you can guess, Galiot was buried in his church.

He’ll be thrilled to learn that his Renaissance funeral chapel, his tomb and commemorative plate are all listed Historical monuments.

Department of Lot
Coordinates Assier: Lat 44.674942 – Long 1.878026

Photos Wikimedia Commons: TympanumchurchHeaderOther photos are ©melangedmagic – Evelyn Jackson

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