Lerzy Église Sainte-Benoîte

What you need to know about this church

Église Sainte-Benoîte Lerzy

Where to find this church

Church Information

Église Sainte-Benoîte is located in Lerzy, a small village with 223 inhabitants about 4 km south-west of La Capelle in the Département Aisne in the région Hauts-de-France.

The church is locked

This church was listed as a historical monument in 1928

* denotes external links that open in a new window

Lerzy Église Sainte-Benoîte
Church from north-west

Visiting Église Sainte-Benoîte

Disaster struck during the night of 11 to 12 March 2014. Saint-Benoîte in Lerzy caught fire after a roofer had been working during the day. A simple “accident” that destroyed much of the building, sparing only the keep halfway.

You can see photos of the state of the church after the fire on the website linked above, and the article from “L’Aisne Nouvelle” tells the story of the church after the fire.

Construction began in the 12th century, as evidenced by its sandstone façade and Romanesque porch. In 1632, during the fortification works, it was equipped with an imposing keep and two corner towers. The large one, which is the same height as the keep, houses the staircase leading to the keep’s escape room, the small one a chapel.

The glazed bricks, the numerous embrasures, the height and the stature of the building make Sainte-Benoîte one of the most spectacular fortified churches of the Thiérache.

Excavations by the “Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives” (INRAP) in 2018 brought to light some astonishing things: Romanesque foundations and two massive columns between the nave and the choir had reappeared from the ground.

On the walls behind the choir, there were first paintings with obvious colours and shapes, a blue chalice, a red robe, a female face… Then more frescoes appeared on one wall of the nave. One of these frescoes shows the silhouette of St Louis being drowned in lilies. The most recent are just over a hundred years old, the oldest eight centuries.

In the depths of Sainte-Benoîte, graves of nine people have been discovered, six adults, one youth and two children. The oldest was Carolingian, the others lived between the 10th and 16th centuries.

The restoration work has now been completed, so that Saint-Benoîte once again presents itself as an intact church. 

Unfortunately, it is generally locked, but after I wrote to Mayor Langhendries, he kindly agreed to show me the inside of the church. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him once again, as it was a very interesting and informative visit, as he took a lot of time, gave me all the necessary explanations and also showed me photos of the excavations carried out as part of the renovation work.

We also climbed the tower together up to the upper floors; you can get a small impression of this in the video above right. We also visited the belfry, where a bell now hangs that was cast on site; you can find a link to an article and a video about it here.

I also particularly liked the new window in the small baptistery in the south tower. This depicts the history of the place and the church, shows the fire, then the various trades involved in the renovation and finally the newly built church. Photos of this beautiful window can be found in the slide show.

Lerzy Église Sainte-Benoîte
Church from south-west