Jeantes Église Saint-Martin

What you need to know about this church

Église Saint-Martin Jeantes

Where to find this church

Church Information

Église Saint-Martin is located in Jeantes, a small village with 206 inhabitants in the Département Aisne about 16 km south-east of the town of Vervins in the Département Aisne in the région Hauts-de-France.

The church is open daily from 9am to 6pm

This church was listed as a historical monument in 1987

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Jeantes Église Saint-Martin
Keep from the south

Visiting Église Saint-Martin

A first church on the site was built as early as the 12th century; however, nothing remains of it today. The nave and choir were built between 1620-1630, the keep was built much later.

If you look closely, you can see various traces of fortification on it: numerous embrasures – also on the towers -, a bretèche on the north side of the tower on the left as seen from the front, and a staircase on the left of the portal leading into this very tower, which leads to the upper floors. On the top floor there used to be an escape room, but today only two of the three floors remain. The staircase was used by municipal representatives until 1889, when, curiously, the keep still housed the town hall and the archives.

Saint-Martin was frequently altered or restored over the centuries (the choir in 1667, the nave in 1737, the façade in the 19th century, the bell tower in 1978).

But the church was to become a work of art through a friendship: Pierre Suasso de Lima de Prado (1915-1991), a former African missionary of Dutch origin and parish priest of Jeantes, met the painter, ceramicist and sculptor Charles Eyck (1897-1983), also Dutch and winner of the 1922 Prix de Rome in Maastricht.

The priest told him about the plan to restore and decorate “Sint Maarten”. Eyck was enthusiastic about the 12th century baptismal font made of bluestone – certainly one of the most beautiful in the region – and began work in August 1962.

The theme originally chosen (the miraculous catch of fish) was quickly expanded to include the life and passion of Christ. The painter, who had come to decorate a few square metres around the baptistery, created 400 m2 of frescoes in the narthex, nave and choir in less than four months with the help of young Dutch assistants. He used mixed techniques, oil paints, multi-coloured lime paints or sgrafitto, a wall engraving technique practised in the Renaissance and Art Nouveau.

Following this, Charles Eyck executed five magnificent stained glass windows to illustrate the life of Monique Carlin, who was born in Jeantes and founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of Avesnes-sur-Helpe. On the south wall, he added the fourteen stations of a Stations of the Cross whose style, like the frescoes or stained glass windows, recalls Chagall and Modigliani.

Saint-Martin had thus gone from being a “normal” fortified church to the work of art that we can still admire today, as the church is open every day.

Wall painting with baptismal font
Wall painting