The Liadou of Conques

The church of Sainte-Foy is one of the small number of those which have preserved vases and reliquaries precious either by their material or by their origin… I was in no way prepared to find so much wealth in such a desert… ” These were the words of the inspector of historical monuments Prosper Mérimée when he discovered, in 1837, the goldsmith's treasure of Conques. This unique set of works (reliquaries, portable altars, shrines, procession crosses, etc.), coming from the most distant Middle Ages, was miraculously saved from destruction on several occasions, notably during the revolutionary period (1792-1794). This fact is certainly a miracle, but it is also due to the will of the inhabitants, concerned not to see the holy bodies that these various reliquaries sheltered desecrated.

Treasure statue of Sainte Foy Conques

One of the most important goldsmith's treasures of medieval Christianity

Thus has been perpetuated in Conques, over the course of a long millennium, the cult of the relics that countless pilgrims – some fortunate – came to venerate here since the second half of the 9th century: those of Christ, of the Virgin, but also and above all of Saint Foy, a young Christian from Agen, martyred in 303.

Gradually, talented goldsmiths designed, from noble metals (gold, silver), these sumptuous reliquaries on a wooden core, enriched with hard and precious stones, antique cameos or intaglios, champlevé or cloisonné enamels, jewelry offered by individuals…

Executed during the Carolingian era (after the “furtive translation” of the saint's relics around 866), the Majesty of Saint Foy obviously constitutes the centerpiece and somewhat confusing piece of this incomparable treasure of goldsmithing which ensures in Conques, on the level of artistic creation, international notoriety.
Indeed, this reliquary statue does not fail to surprise, both because of its hieratic posture and its fixed and terribly impressive gaze. It is true that his head comes from an emperor's mask from the Late Empire!