Basilica of the Madeleine

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Vézelay, Burgundy, France; 1120–32

Although the Basilica of the Madeleine is the largest Romanesque church in France, it is located in a small village rather than a major city. Its building was financed by income from pilgrims who went there to venerate the relics of Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus Christ’s friends and followers. It was a site of immense prestige that attracted the attention of kings and saints, but from 1280 rival claims undermined confidence in the relics and its influence waned.

Although constructed later than Durham Cathedral (pages 126–27), the Basilica of the Madeleine made use of the older-style groin ...

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