There is a chapel dedicated to Saint Maximin next to the church in Collonges. It was most likely built in the 14th century, and is said to have belonged to Collonges’s priory. From the beginning, it was assigned to certain local families’ tombstones, namely the Maussac family, whose coat of arms can still be seen on the chapel’s keystone, above the walled-in door.
From the middle of the 17th century until the late 19th century, it became a meeting place for the « Black Penitents »: a brotherhood of laymen who carried out acts of charity and devotion. They organized processions and wore black clothing and hoods. Many religious objects still present in the chapel belonged to this brotherhood, such as procession lanterns, and a Passion cross, which the laymen would wear to opening ceremonies during Holy week. The recumbent Christ statue, which can be seen in the church, used to be carried by the Black Penitents and exposed on Good Friday.
When the brotherhood ended, the chapel was abandoned and its roof crumbled to pieces. “Les Amis de Collonges” association collected funds and started renovating the chapel in 1927. They repaired the framework, roof and the top of the belfry.
In 2014, the association launched a contemporary stained-glass window project in the chapel, thanks to public funds, collected by the “Fondation du Patrimoine”. Artist Didier Mencoboni and craftsman Olivier Juteau were selected. Their idea was to play with the light shining through elliptical shapes, to create colourful projections, which vary according to the position of the sun.
The other stained-glass window represents Saint John the Baptist. It was created by famous Limousin glassblower Francis Chigot, in 1936. He also created one of the stained-glass windows in Collonges’s church as well as in many other buildings in Limousin, such as Benedictins train station in Limoges.
Black Penitents’ chapel
This 14th century chapel used to be home to a « Black Penitents » friary. Nowadays it is a place for contemporary creations and has stained glass windows by an artist/glass-maker. Learn all about the chapel in this video.