One of the first bishops of Chartres finally found?

One of the first bishops of Chartres finally found?
One of the first bishops of Chartres finally found?
A team of archaeologists exhumed on June 19 in the Saint-Martin-en-Val church in Chartres a remains whose coffin had not been opened for 1,500 years. Although it is impossible at this stage to know the identity of the remains, several elements suggest that it could be one of the first bishops of Chartres.

The Saint-Martin-en-Val church, in Chartres, has definitely not finished revealing all its secrets. Built between the 5th and 6th centuries in the remains of the largest sanctuary in Roman Gaul known to date, it has been the subject of archaeological excavations since 2013. This Wednesday, June 19, a sarcophagus which has not been opened for 1,500 years was discovered. Although it is impossible at this stage to know the identity of the remains, several elements suggest that it could be a “very important religious figure in the Merovingian era”.

The skeleton discovered on Wednesday June 19, 2024

Chartres metropolis – Martino Group

This is the whole point of this discovery. Although we know that this is a Merovingian character, it is too early to be able to identify him more precisely. Previous research has shown that both clergy and laity can enter the church. “There is no inscription on the sarcophagus, and there are no elements in the tomb that allow the individual to be identified” also underlines after Aleteia Mathias Dupuis, director of C’ Chartres Archéologie, in charge of archaeological excavations.

Clues can guide us on the path

However, some elements indicate that he could be one of the first bishops of Chartres. “Based on the location of the sarcophagus, so close to the heart of the church, we can imagine that it houses the remains of a very important religious figure in the Merovingian era,” confides Mathias Dupuis. “It is here that the very first bishops of Chartres would have been buried during the 6th and 7th centuries AD.”

The skeleton discovered on Wednesday June 19, 2024

Chartres metropolis – Martino Group

Indeed, the bishops of Chartres do not rest in Chartres Cathedral. The latter being dedicated to the worship of the Virgin, “it was never conceivable that this space could be soiled by the presence of graves”. Furthermore, we know that in the Middle Ages, bishops, before taking their seat in Chartres Cathedral, spent the night in the crypt of Saint Martin-en-Val. Thus, there is a link between this church and the bishops of Chartres.

Texts from the Middle Ages also relate the fact that the tomb of Saint Lubin, bishop of Chartres in the 6th century, was buried in the church, but his tomb has never been found. However, Mathias Dupuis would like to point out that it would be hasty to speculate on the identification of the remains at Saint Lubin because his body was undoubtedly moved during the Middle Ages as part of a translation of relics. The coming months will be an opportunity to carry out scientific analyzes on the organic matter, bones and pieces of tissue found in the sarcophagus.

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