The church of Saint-Martin in Vieux-Virton can be considered the original parish of Saint-Mard
. Indeed, the title Saint-Martin, its extra muros location and the chronology revealed during the excavations point to a very old church. The site was occupied as early as the Gallo-Roman period (presence of cellars and a small temple), but the very first Christian building was Carolingian, as attested by a few burials uncovered under the church.
The early church dates from the 8th century and was built of stone. In the 9th or 10th century, a second building was erected. Two carved blocks from the High Roman Empire, which can still be seen today, were used as a replacement. A third construction phase
took place in the 10th-11th centuries. It was at this time that the nave was extended. A clearly visible seam bears witness to this extension. A square choir was built in the 11th and 12th centuries and the whole ensemble became the Romanesque church
. In the 13th century, a large keep tower
was built against the western wall of the nave. Finally, in the 18th century, two private chapels and a sacristy were added to the church to give it its present form.
Inside, the furniture
is in the regional baroque style
, while the paintings on the vaults were for a long time attributed to the Orval painter Brother Abraham (1741 - 1809). Today, this attribution is questioned. The identification of the author is underway. They were restored and saved in extremis in the 1990s by the Royal Institute for Artistic Heritage (Brussels). The iconographic programme is that of the Holy Trinity, surrounded by putti with flower garlands.
The painting of the vaults
forms a whole with the three altars. The vault is made up of several parts, and is divided by elements that emphasise its structure. The paintings do not form a continuous scene, but are conceived as independent pictures, framed by mouldings.
The complex has been classified as a Monument and Site since 1972.
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