Tours, founded in the first century by Julius Caesar, has been an important Christian centre for 1700 years. Its second bishop was St Martin, whose saintliness made Tours a major place of pilgrimage for many centuries. The city suffered much in the wars of religion and it was here that the word ‘Huguenot’ was coined. As everywhere in France, the Revolution caused the suppression of religious practice which resumed under Napoleon. It was in 1816, after his defeat at Waterloo, that the Church of England was established—in the same building where we are welcomed today.
THE TEMPLE OF THE ÉGLISE RÉFORMÉE
Constructed at the end of the 17th century, the temple was built as the chapel of a women’s religious order, the Daughters of Christian Unity, founded in 1676 by a canon of Tours cathedral, Joseph Sain (1630-1708), who later became bishop and is buried in the building. This community comprised about twenty nuns, only admitting widows and young women newly converted from the Reformed Religion “to take women out of Calvinist heresy”.
In 1816 the Church of England became established in the Touraine and brought the building back to Christian use. They were joined by the local reformed community in 1838 who bought the property in 1844. The English remained at least until 1891, but then the Church went into abeyance, being re-founded in 2014.
Savigny is a village of about 1,500 people situated on the north-western fringes of the Chinon vineyards. It has an interesting history. Local tradition has it—supported by 19th century research—that it was founded when Moors conquered and taken prisoner at the Battle of Tours in 732 (the battle which is said to have determined that the religion of Europe would be Christian), were sent to the marshy Véron peninsula. There is also evidence of a first century military encampment.
THE CHURCH OF SAINT MICHEL
The spacious neo-gothic church of Saint Michel was constructed in 1848 by Charles Guérin, the diocesan architect, on the site of a former church. The stained glass is by Léopold Lobin in 1848 and by Florence in 1896.
We are greatly indebted to Pasteure Florence Lusetti and the Conseil Présbyteral of the Eglise Reformée for their kindness in letting us use their Temple in Tours and also to the Archbishop of Tours and the clergy of the parish for their generosity in letting us use the church at Savigny-en-Véron.