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Statues and paintings

Cité épiscopale d’Albi

The core of Saint-Salvi’s collection is a fine array of local sculptures from the end of the Middle Ages: a Pietà conserved in the sacristy, a crucifix, a Calvary, a ’Man of Sorrows’ and six prophets.

Saint-Salvi also possessed a beautiful collection of reliquaries which were confiscated during the Revolution.

A multicoloured wooden statue, presumed to date from the 12th century, is the only representation of Saint Salvi. It was rediscovered recently in a garret of the church and is now conserved in the sacristy. The image conforms to the tradition: a handsome, mysterious face bearing an introspective expression.

Another admirable piece found in the sacristy is a coloured limestone Pietà from the end of the 15th century. At the end of the church, beneath the organ, six sturdily constructed coloured statues, seemingly copies of those of the Cathedral, represent the members of the Sanhedrin (a traditional Jewish legislative assembly) which previously surrounded an ’ecce homo’ situated in the first chapel on the right from the end of the church.

On the left of this same chapel is hung a representation of Jesus being brought down from the cross, painted on wood it bears a resemblance to Flemish art of the period.

There are also a number of more recent canvas works and statues from the 17th an 18th centuries of Saint Roch and Christ on the cross with the Virgin and Saint John.

The chapel of the Holy Virgin, the oldest part of the church, houses successful copies of the celebrated statues of Judith and Esther found in the Cathedral of Sainte-Cécile.

To complete the inventory, we find three 18th century altarpieces and a collection of paintings, including six large canvases donated to the church around 1725, four of which evoke the life of Saint Salvi and another which was offered up to Saint Roch by the church consuls in order that he spare Albi from the plague that was ravaging Marseille at the time.

A new discovery at the “Collégiale Saint-Salvi”

At the end of February 2011 archaeologists came across a statue in an alcove hidden behind a wall.

Although missing the arms and a part of the face, the statue is surprisingly well conserved, particularly the colouration which has largely survived, despite the relatively high humidity in its hidden alcove.

Upon beginning restoration of the statue the archaeologists were surprised to find that its back had not been worked, suggesting that it had been placed against a wall.

At first sight it appears to date from the first half of the 14th century and represents a crowned woman (perhaps the Virgin Mary or a Saint?). The ongoing archaeological investigation should help to reveal her secrets.

When exactly was the statue carved? Where does it come from? Why was it hidden? Many questions remain unanswered.

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