One of the five major Romanesque churches in Auvergne
A place of devotion to the Virgin for more than a thousand years, Orcival is a little village in the Monts Dore ranges, some thirty kilometres from Clermont-Ferrand. The basilica of Notre-Dame, once a parish church and then a collegial, belongs to the celebrated family of major Romanesque churches in Auvergne, like those of St Nectaire, St Saturnin, St Austremoine at Issoire and Notre-Dame du Port in Clermont-Ferrand.
On the first list of Monuments Historiques
Built in the first half of the XIIth century, the church owes its remarkable sobriety and the superbly transparent organization of its parts to well-tried building techniques that derive their principal inspiration from the cathedral of Clermont of 1000 A.D. Since 1840, this architecture of lava and « lauze » has received due recognition, and the church was placed on the first list of Monuments Historiques.
Remarkable Romanesque capitals
Notre-Dame of Orcival has a fine collection of capitals, with unmistakable affinities to the ancient Corinthian style, probably owing to the proximity of two important Gallo-Roman sites, the Temple of Mercury at the top of the Puy-de-Ddme and the baths at Mont-Dore. From the respectful copy to the most « Romanesque » liberation, the work of the sculptors is remarkable for its range of variations on the older model.
The procession carries on the pilgrim tradition of the Middle Ages
A Romanesque Virgin in Majesty is an object of great veneration at Orcival. This work of sacred art in walnut wood covered with silver and silver gilt symbolizes the mediaeval theological idea of the « Throne of Wisdom ». On Ascension Day, the Virgin and Child, in robes and wearing crowns, are borne in procession; in this way the faithful carry on, every year, the pilgrim tradition of the Middle Ages.