Vézelay, Church, and Hill are located in northern Burgundy, France.
The Benedictine Abbey of Vezelay became a prominent part of history after acquiring the relics of St Mary Magdalene which transformed this city into a holy pilgrimage. The second crusade was preached in 1146 by St Bernard and the third crusade began from here when Richard the lion-hearted met with Philip II Augustus in 1190. The Madeleine of Vezelay, as it is fondly called, is an epitome of Burgundian Romanesque architecture and its exquisite sculpted art. Vezelay or the Basilica of St. Magdalene has been on this site since the 9th century.
As the legend goes, a monk by the name of Baudilion brought the relics or bones of Mary Magdalene to Vezelay. The authenticity of the relics was confirmed by the pope in 1058 and Vezelay saw an influx of pilgrims ever since. Another reason that made Vezelay abbey such popularity with the pilgrims was that it was also a starting point of Santiago de Compostela. It was and is considered one of the most important parts of medieval pilgrimage. This is the reason a lot of tourists or pilgrims were attracted to this town and inadvertently their wealth.
From the exterior of the church, one can see the influence of Gothic, Romanesque and the 19th-century architecture. Even though most of this structure was restored in the 18th century, there are still striking gothic influences in the central gable and the south tower. One can also see great touches of Romanesque style tympanum that was the latest addition in the 19th century.
The 11th-century nave was designed in such a way that it glorified during summer and winter solstice. All the capitals of the nave include biblical and ancient legends. Even though the exterior of the church is pretty ornate and sculpted, it is the interior that is more breathtaking and stays with the visitors for a longer period of time. There are three portals that are ornately decorated. Don’t miss the central tympanum which is a pictorial representation of the apostles and the preaching of the good news. This Tympanum is surrounded by people from all over the world listening to the message of the Christ.
The building that we see today in its full glory had suffered great neglect in the 17th and the 18th century and some damage during the French revolution. It was, however, fully restored in the 18th century. One can still see the relics of St. Magdalene inside the basilica. It was later discovered by Hugues Delautre that the church is in complete alignment with the earth’s movement with respect to the sun.
The church was under need of attention soon after the French Revolution. The damage around that time was so huge that the Church was near collapse. Upon the direction of the then inspector who warned that the church can collapse any day now, the work of restoring it was commissioned and the architect Eugene Viollet Du Lac was roped in. The team worked incessantly from 1840 to 1861 and put the removed almost all the vandalized sculptures.