UNDER THE PROTECTION AND THE DONATION OF THE CAROLIGIAN KINGS
This was the time when the Carolingian sovereigns chose to favour and shower with benefits the monasteries within their empire, for political as much as religious reasons. Louis the Pious, king of Aquitaine, under Charlemagne's reign, would have paid many visits and placed the monastery under his powerful influence, officially naming it "Conques". In 819, he donated no less than ten pieces of lands in its favour. Twenty years later, Pepin the 2nd, king of Aquitaine, gifted Figeac to Conques where many monks took residence. Gold and silver were added to this donation as well as precious clothes, intaglios and antique cameos. They are the origins of Conques' Treasure.
But the collective memory would only remember the name of Charlemagne, the benefactor par excellence, forgetting his other family members. Furthermore of course, centuries later he would get his own representation on the Tympanum of the Last Judgment of the Romanesque abbey-church, among the procession of the Elected.
The “furtive transfer” of the relics of Saint Foy (around 866)
Curiously the destiny of Conques was sealed at the time of the Roman emperor Diocletian, during the great persecution of Christians of the Roman Empire in the early 4th century. Far from here, a young girl of the city of Agen named Foy (Fides en Latin) converted to Christianity by Caprais, bishop of the city, refused to sacrifice to pagan gods and endured for such the martyrdom, at the young age of twelve.
During the 9th century, at a time when the importance of relics grew dramatically and when the presence of a holy body lead to a huge spiritual impact for an abbey holding them, Conques was oddly left out. This was the time when Conques' monks, after fruitless attempts to obtain relics, turned their attention to the holy relics of Saint Foy from Agen, which were well revered in Aquitaine. Their "abduction", called a "furtive transfer", took place around 866.
Conques: a pilgrimage sanctuary dedicated to Saint Foy (from the 10th century)
The arrival of Saint Foy's relics in their new home, where they would later on perform miracles for the blinds and the prisoners in particular, drew crowds of pilgrims from all over France coming to ask for special benefits. For the abbey, this situation meant a new birth. Construction works would go on for three centuries without interruption, providing prosperity to the area. During the 9th and 10th centuries, the expansion permitted the emergence of the first pieces of art, including the famous statue-reliquary of Saint Foy. It was prayed by worshipers and set in the three-naved church preceded by a bell porch.