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The picture is a stitch of two vertical images.

A view of the interior of the parish church of Saint-Christophe, Léoville, Charente-Maritime showing the litre funéraire and a depiction of death.

A litre funéraire (painted funereal band) is a black band that was painted inside or outside of the walls of churches and chapels in France in medieval times and during the Ancien Régime. The name derives from latin: “litura funeris”, which can be translated: “place that is revised for funeral”. The litre is usually a horizontal black band, that was painted on the plaster of walls and columns at a height of 2.50 - 4 metres. It was on average 30 centimetres wide.

The tradition was started in the 11th century when Pope Gregory VII decreed that the Laity could no longer own a church, instead they could become patron of a church. As patron they were allowed to nominate a clergyman if a position was vacant and were entitled to a commemorative painting on the litre.

On 13 April 1791 the National Assembly of the French Revolution decided that the litres should be removed completely from public churches and chapels by the patron. This enactment did not encounter much resistance, because at that time the litres were rarely used any more. Litres that were not removed because of the enactment often disappeared later because of renovation works or decomposition. It is very rare to come across them these days.

The above has been extracted from Alltag in der Normandie/ everyday life in Normandy web site. For a fuller history of the litre funéraire (in English), please click here.

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Viewed: 2009
Points: 36
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Additional Photos by Stephen Nunney (snunney) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 10649 W: 63 N: 29870] (130965)
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