Shrine of St. Foy: Back View (Detail)
Photo © David Joyal / Art History Images. All rights reserved.

Shrine of St. Foy: Back View (Detail)

The Shrine of St. Foy, on display in a small museum in the cloisters, dates from the late 9th century and is the only medieval shrine of its kind that survives today. Made of wood and covered entirely in gold and precious stones, the statue contains relics of the saint's skull in its back. The shrine originally stood at the east end of the abbey church, where medieval pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela stopped to pray for a safe journey and other blessings. In 1010, a clergyman named Bernard d'Angers recorded the scene before the statue: " The crowd of people prostrating themselves on the ground was so dense it was impossible to kneel down... When they saw it for the first time, all in gold and sparkling with precious stones and looking like a human face, the majority of the peasants thought that the statue was really looking at them and answering their prayers with her eyes. "