Saint-Christophe du Puch
In the territory of Sauveterre-de-Guyenne in the department of the Gironde, among the vineyards of Bordeaux, there is the church of Saint-Christophe du Puch.
Dating back to the 11th-12th centuries it is one of the many precious Romanesque testimonies of the territory 'Entre-deux-Mers', the heart of the Aquitaine region.
In the 1289 the church was entrusted to the Templars and it seems that they owe to them the decoration of the western portal.
The portal is dominated by a frame with 7 decorated modillions.
At the center stands a beautiful well-preserved bicaudal mermaid.
The right-wing modillon depict a psaltery player and a flute player.
But it is the second modillon from the left that arouses our interest.
Unlike the others it is heavily ruined.
Léo Drouyn (1816-1896), an archaeologist who carried out a valuable work of census and design of much of the Romanesque heritage of Aquitaine, in 1845 had been able to admire the integral model.
He drew a sketch of this modillon but he comments it like this: 'le deuxième modillon est un sujet que nous renonçons à décrire' (the second modillon has a subject that we renounce to describe).
It is always Léo Drouyn, in 1875, who informs us that he designed it "... avant qu'un curé, par trop rigide, ait eu la malencontreuse idée de mutiler ce qu'avaient respecté ses prédécesseurs depuis le XIIe siècle" (before a parish priest, too rigid, had the unfortunate idea of mutilating what his predecessors had respected since the twelfth century).
Certainly had to have a particularly lascivious subject!
It is however a precious annotation: the churches of the Romanesque period are real ships capable of transferring to us, through more than 8 centuries, precious information on who and how we were. Navigation was not at all easy: the work of man was often added to the insults of time.
Archeology, the study of history from documents and respect for the past are modern concepts and far from obvious.
Often (as in the case of knickers in the Sistine Chapel or the cathedral of Trani) zealous employees have arrogated the right to 'purge' the things that were not edifying to our eyes.
For this reason, if we want to have a reasonably precise idea of the Middle Ages, we can not just admire the great cathedrals (subjected to reforms and counter-reforms), but we should attend the peripheral churches, hoping that the decorative aspects have not been too much attention (or too few) by zealous parish priests ...
And anyway we should ban the Taliban of all cultures and religions.