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The Cathar Martyrs

Ville Avignonet

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Ville Avignonet
 
Just off the road between Toulouse and Carcassonne, this village in Haute-Garonne is well worth a visit.
 
It formally had a castle and the present church is on the site of its chapel.  A tower stands near to where the city gate once stood commemorating the murder of Holy Inquisitors who were operating from the town.
 

 
After failed popular risings in 1240 against the crusaders' oppressions, May 1242 saw a raiding party from Montsegur gain entry to the town by night and and the killing of the hated members of the Holy Inquisition who were ensconced in the castle.  This act led to retribution in the form of the crusaders besieging Montsegur and after many months siege burning over 220 Cathars.
 
The tower was built in 1610 to reinforce the main town gate, with the crusader statue being added around 1850.  Who he represents is unsure, though he bears the town's coat of arms.
 

 
The church is from the 14-16 centuries being dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles.  In the nave there is a depiction of the death of the Inquisitors and their acceptance into heaven as martyrs.  Despite various calls for their canonisation, they have not as yet been elevated to sainthood.
 
     

 

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