Built in 1295, the Holy Mother of God Peribleptos is one of the oldest churches in the historic town of Ohrid in southwestern Macedonia. The domed cross-in-square church was commissioned by the Byzantine governor Progonos Sgouros, a son-in-law of emperor Andronikos II Palaeologos.
The frescoes in the church, which have substantially contributed to current knowledge of Palaeologan painting, include images from the Passion and the Gospels, the life of the Virgin Mary, and the life of John the Baptist. Byzantine painters Michael and Eutychios signed their work at the church, making Holy Mother of God Peribleptos one of only four churches that preserves the signatures of these important artists.
An ambulatory was added to the church in the fourteenth century, but closed off in the nineteenth century, giving the entrance to the building its unusual appearance. Holy Mother of God Peribleptos has suffered from improper roof conservation in the past, which has allowed additional moisture to enter the building. As a result, rising damp and salts leeching out of the walls have severely affected the Byzantine frescoes. Changes in pigment are noticeable, and in some areas the paintings have started to fall from the walls. The local community is eager to restore the church, but requires international assistance to do so.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).