This treasure stands as one of the five greatest medieval goldsmith's works of art in Europe and the sole in France to display so many elements from the High Middle Ages.
9:30-12:30 and 14:00-18:30 (April-September) ; 10:00-12:30 and 14:00-17:30 (October-March)
The Treasure is open every day
The museum J-Fau is open from April to early November
Guided tours of the site are with a previous reservation.
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05 65 72 85 00 (Office of Conques) - 05 65 71 13 18 (office of Marcillac)
It is located in the cloister area.
The Treasure of Conques is composed of many reliquaries with the famous “Majesty” of Saint Foy as its masterpiece, and unique example of reliquary statuary from the first millennium. This treasure stands as one of the five greatest medieval goldsmith's works of art in Europe and the sole in France to display so many elements from the High Middle Ages.
Fee/person: 6.50€ adult ; 4.50€ reduced (group, Conques guided tour ticket, student card, pilgrim credential, job seeker card, large family card ; full fee ticket entrance from Museum Soulages in Rodez) ; 2.50€ child (7 to 18 years) ; free (child under 7; blind visitors) - The entrance fee is included when you rent the Ipads (digital tour of the church and treasure).
The ticket from the Treasure allows you to visit the museum J-Fau (open from April 4 to early November).
Accessibility: lift, touch booklets for visually impaired visitors
The Treasure is a witness of the worship and devotion of relics. These precious holy bodies were at the source of an abbey's development and prosperity. At that time, each sanctuary welcomed crowds of pilgrims, sharing similar fervour, in the hope of receiving Earth benefits and rewards in Heaven. What is even more astonishing is the continuous reverence of the religious relics, still as strong today.
The word Treasure not only brings to mind the material and artistic richness of gold and silver coatings decorated with filigree, antique stones, cut gem stones, pearls and enamels, above all, it stands for the religious importance given to the contents of these carefully decorated caskets.
The “Majesty” of Saint Foy crowned and sitting on a throne is displayed in a rotunda. By its structure, it could remind one of a pagan temple as well as a church apse or a kind of throne room.
This art piece dating from the 9th to the 10th century and charged with an exceptional historical and artistic interest shelters a sacred relic, Saint Foy's skullcap. She was an adolescent Christian girl martyred in Agen in 303 A.D. Her remains were brought to Conques in a "furtive transfer" in 866.
This statue stands as an astonishing work of art for its antiquity, making, style and symbolism. The modelling is quite surprising. The body is disproportionate with large head, hands and feet. The facial expression is severe and haughty marked by large blue eyes and a chin held high. The gleaming gold, the gems and the enamels give an odd feeling that often leads to think this reliquary to be something more like an idol. It shows in fact Saint Foy interceding for the pilgrims who pray to her.
Crudely carved from yew wood, the statue stops at the neck where is fitted the gold hollowed head, cut from an antique bust (4th-5th century).
The covering of gold, engraved with small flowers (9th century) has been embellished over time. The oldest pieces are the bands around the collar, the sleeves and the dress edges (10th century). They include numerous intaglios carved with pagan motifs. The crown is adorned with cloisonné-enamel in gold (10th century). The gilded and silver throne has similar Pre-Romanesque bands, but the balls of rock crystal are Gothic in style. The arms and hands were refashioned during the 16th century and their original position is unknown.
According to the legend, Charlemagne as founder of many abbeys sent a reliquary in the shape of a letter to all of them. Conques received the letter A ranking it first among the chosen monasteries. In fact, an inscription indicates that Abbot Begon the 3rd (1087-1107) ordered its creation. With it, he was certainly recognizing a very ancient tradition.
On the back side, a marvellous composition can be admired, an ensemble of filigree and enamelled settings encircling an intaglio on a carnelian, representing a winged Victoria writing on a shield.
Re-modelled on several occasions, this small reliquary has a collection of 9th-11th century pieces with additions made during the 12th, 13th and 16th centuries.
Some of the most precious artefacts are the translucent red or green enamels on a gilded background, dating from Carolingian times. On the reverse side are other opaque enamels, blue, white and red, with bird wings in cloisonné. They date from the 11th century.
It is also worth noting the abundance of filigree and the arcades mounted with bands of gems, not forgetting the antique carnelian intaglio representing Apollo.
The portable altars contain consecrated objects and were small enough to be carried by travelling monks to celebrate mass outside the usual location.
The Latin inscription made of large readable letters encircling the base of the roof of this small structure (in truth, not a lantern) tells us that Abbot Begon the 3rd (1087-1107) ordered this art piece.
This reliquary shaped like an ancient mausoleum is decorated with figurative medallions exalting the triumph of Christ over Evil and Death (divine Majesties). The most beautiful is the one representing David victorious over the lion. It is also the most recent (second half of 12th century).
The inscription set at the base indicates that Abbot Begon the 3rd ordered this work of art and that Pope Pascal the 2nd sent the relics from Christ and some saints from Rome in 1100.
Apart from the pieces from other eras, the beautiful scene of the Crucifixion testifies to the high artistic level obtained by Conques workshop.
Discovered in 1875 during the demolition of a wall built around the choir at the end of the 16th century, this casket was restored in 1878 by Poussielgue-Rusand, who made some medallions to replace the missing ones.
This composition made of elements from different times dates from the 7th to the 12th century.
The rectangular Merovingian cloisonné gold plates are set beside a central jewel encircled by a cloisonné circle from the same period. Siler plates engraved on niello surround it and are dated from the 8th century or early 9th century. Large cabochons trim the bottom; it dates from the end of the 9th century.
This late composition of the 16th century is made with fragments of gold and silver pieces from various periods dating between the 7th and 13th centuries. The oldest are the 7th century cloisonné plate and the 9th century silver-gilt pieces surrounded with embossed foliage.
On her shoulders, enamelled escutcheons carry an unidentified Seigniorial Coat of Arms, probably the donors.
In the folds of the clothes, the hallmark of a goldsmith from the end of the 13th century can be seen.
This reliquary is a threefold panel, from the second half of the 13th century, with numerous individually set reliquaries, inscribed with saints' names. The one from Saint James can be noticed at the top of the central panel.
This "Saint George" was a monk from Conques, who became Lodeve Bishop in 877. His right arm is mentioned on a list of relics established in the 17th century. The hand adopts the blessing gesture according to the western manner. Christ on the Cross is represented in a Gothic style at the bottom of the sleeve (end of 13th century to early 14th century).
Entirely covered in silver and partly gilded, this piece of art carries the hallmarks of the goldsmith Pierre Frechrieu and of the town of Villefranche-de-Rouergue. The reliquary is dated very exactly from 1493 to 1494. The iconography recalls the martyr of the young saint: the palm-leaf, sign of God’s chosen ones, the grill and the sword, instruments of her Passion.
Written on parchment and dating from the 11th century, it was partially composed by Bernard, a school master at Angers cathedral, in 1013, on his return journey from Conques. He describes the Pre-Romanesque church, the Majesty worshipped like an icon and other reliquaries. It tells the numerous miracles related to the cult of the relics.
The Treasure displays other religious artefacts of lesser artistic interest, but of great importance for the history of Conques after the period of Romanesque magnificence: reliquary-busts, a carved copper cross, incense-burners, a copper host box, pewter burettes, a lead plaque, seal matrices, manuscripts and so on...
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Set in a former house located near the Plò fountain, below the church square, this museum shelters a rich collection of sculptures (capitals, statues...) and artefacts coming from the abbey and displayed on different floors.
A single ticket allows the visit of both the Treasure (open everyday) and the Museum J-Fau (open from April to mid-November).