Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Name the church ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   10 Comments )
Subject: Name the church
Category: Relationships and Society > Religion
Asked by: archae0pteryx-ga
List Price: $13.10
Posted: 12 Oct 2005 21:25 PDT
Expires: 11 Nov 2005 20:25 PST
Question ID: 579635
Here's an opportunity for you to create a house of worship out of thin air.

How often do you get an offer like that?  Sure, you get asked all the
time to help name websites, new businesses, and even puppies.  But be
honest, now:  when was the last time someone gave you a chance to
bestow a moniker on a medieval church?

If you're Myoarin, the answer is October 1st (see my #572155).  Since
you've declined the honor, I'm now throwing it open to
anyone--including you.  For everyone else, I think you'll agree that
it's not an everyday opportunity.

I need a church in Medieval France that I can treat fictionally.  It
has to sound authentic even though it will not, of course, be
historically factual.  So I'm inviting you to name one and supply a
little supporting information.  Please give it a shot if you are so

Here are the conditions:

1.  It's a church, not a cathedral.
2.  It stands in Bethune, France, in 1310, and is old at the time.
3.  It is attended by some segment of the upscale citizenry.
4.  It was destroyed in a fire sometime in the 1500's.  There's nothing left of it.
5.  It needs a plausible name appropriate to the time and place.
6.  No humor, overt, subtle, or oblique.  But a private reference is
ok.  You could name it after yourself if you use a version of your
name that is or could be a real saint's name or other aptly sacred
7.  It needs a date of construction and possibly a little history or lore.
8.  It contains a relic of St. Vaast whose authenticity is in dispute
but which is believed in by the locals.  (The relic is discussed in
#572155 too.)

Please use Comments or Request for Clarification for your suggestions.
 I will select an answer that meets my criteria even if I don't
actually use it.  (Selecting a recommendation does not obligate me to
use it.)

If you are also interested in providing physically descriptive information,
please say so and I will address a separate question to you.

Thank you,

Request for Question Clarification by scriptor-ga on 13 Oct 2005 05:51 PDT
Hello Tryx!

I think I have an Idea. How would you like a Carolingian church dating
from the time of Charlemagne, about 800? To make it a bit special, but
not extravagant, I can imagine that it is a small two-storey octagonal
church, maybe with a nave added at a later date, for example a
Romanesque extension from the 11th century (a relic of St. Vaast
attracts some pilgrims that need more room than available in the small
original church).
The church could be donated by a liege of Charlemagne. Let us call him
Hartmut. He was in Italy with the Frankish king in 800, he fell
seriously ill in Rome, but he got well again after he had a vision of
Italian female saint Oliva of Brescia (a 2nd century martyr) in a
dream. Thankfully, he made a vow to build St. Oliva a church after he
returned safely home, and so he did. This is the orgin of Sainte-Olive
in Béthune.
Einhard (770-840), a high-ranking official of Charlemagne, was
impressed with Hartmut's pious deed and gave him a relic from his
personal collection to be displayed in the new church. I imagine it to
be the walking cane St. Vaast had carried when he mircaculously chased
away a bear from the ruins of a destroyed church, as legend tells.

Do you like this idea? And if so, would you like me to think about the
architectural appearance of the half-Carolingian, half-Romanesque
church of Sainte-Oliva?


Clarification of Question by archae0pteryx-ga on 13 Oct 2005 22:06 PDT

I think your Idea is marvelous and definitely worthy of the capital I.
 And Myoarin's contribution rounds it out nicely.

Yes, I would be interested in a description of the interior and
exterior, and I am willing to make a bonus item of it.  There has to
be room in it for the carved bear statue with the set of actual bear
teeth (I am soooo tempted to name the bear Myor) and enough room to
swing a flogger, and I need to know (as you may have guessed) where a
penitent will stand waiting for her turn at the confessional; or, more
accurately, where she will stand if she is there under duress and
really does not want to enter the confessional but has to wait there
anyway while she broods about it.  Right now I have her leaning
against the northwest pillar because you took out all the pews,
including the fourth row, where she was sitting sullenly before.

The idea of the walking stick appeals to me, and I need to know how it
is displayed.

All that history won't be told--maybe not any of it--but that is what
makes it plausible enough for me to use it.  I have also thought more
than once that I would like to include footnotes.

Is there anything symbolic or significant about your choice of names
and lore that I ought to know before I make mention of them?  I was
already thinking of St. Scriptor, but that didn't work.  Possibly I
will toss in a mention of the scriptorium at the abbey in Arras, and
you will know that is for you.


Clarification of Question by archae0pteryx-ga on 13 Oct 2005 23:18 PDT
Oh, and is there a study for the priests?  I need two priests and a
study or other place for private consultation.  Where's the entrance?

Thank you, thank you,

Request for Question Clarification by scriptor-ga on 14 Oct 2005 10:30 PDT
Dear Tryx,

I spent the day in the library to refresh my knowledge of Carolingian
and Romanesque churches. Here is the result: I present to you L'église
de Sainte-Olive de la guérinson miraculeuse in Béthune.

The outside

The ground plan

The original octagonal church from the early 9th century is built from
quarrystone. Inside, there is an elevated wooden gallery running along
7 of the 8 walls. Originally, the gallery ran along all 8 walls, but
one side was removed when the church was extended in the 12th century.
The gallery is carried by 6 (originally 8) columns that were taken
from the ruins of ancient Gallo-Roman buildings. Inside the octagon,
we find the shrine with the walking stick of St. Vaast at the northern
wall, "guarded" by the statue of the bear. The feretory is made from
gilded wood, in early Gothic style (a rather new replacement of the
original feretory), with a small glass window (through which the stick
can be seen, lying on white silk. The sides of the feretory display
scenes from St. Vaast's life, carved in wood and gilded. At the
south-western wall stands the confessional.
The Romanesque extension nave from 1120 is built from neatly dressed
stone, with a study added in 1300 on the north side. The entrance to
the study is north of the altar.

What do you think? Is it a suitable church for the good citizens of Béthune?


Clarification of Question by archae0pteryx-ga on 14 Oct 2005 20:46 PDT
Wow, Scriptor.  Just wow.  You just blew me away.  I mean, I can't
even compose a complex sentence in response.  I'm reduced to simple
declarative.  This has to be one of the most astonishing responses
ever posted on GA.  You are my hero, and I want to name a city after
you.  In fact, I'd give you your own planet, but I don't write science

Please post something in the answer box.  This one is all yours.

Eventually I may ask you things like "where's the street?" and "what's
the translation of the full name?" and "what's a feretory?", but right
now I am just going to wallow in admiration.

Subject: Re: Name the church
Answered By: scriptor-ga on 15 Oct 2005 04:36 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear Tryx,

I am so glad to know that you like the church I designed for you. I
hope it will play its part in your story well. The full name "l'église
de Sainte-Olive de la guérinson miraculeuse" means "the church of St.
Oliva of the miraculous recovery", referring to Hartmut's illness. You
can, by the way, choose among "Saint Oliva" and "Sainte Olive",
depending on which spelling of this saint's name you like better.
A feretory is, at least acording to my dictionary, a shrine or
container for relics. I guess I instinctively picked one of the most
unusual words of the entire English vocabulary.
I imagine the church to be located at an intersection of two streets,
with the entrance facing one of the streets.

And if you have any additional questions, just ask, dear Tryx!

All the best,

Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 15 Oct 2005 12:17 PDT
Scriptor, I hope never to exhaust my supply of questions; indeed, I
hope my questions outlive me.  But for now the only thing I want to
know is why you sometimes hyphenate Sainte-Olive and sometimes don't,
and which I should do.

Thank you,

Clarification of Answer by scriptor-ga on 15 Oct 2005 12:31 PDT
Dear Tryx,

I noticed that modern French normally uses a hyphen in the names of
churches named after a saint (Saint-Savin, Sainte-Hyacinthe, etc.).
But I am not sure if this was already common practice in medieval
French. On the other hand, fixed rules for punctuation, hyphenation or
orthography did not exist in medieval times. I would use the hyphen
(Sainte-Olive) to give the name a "typical" French feeling.

All the best,
archae0pteryx-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $26.20
Scriptor, I wish I could make these five stars twenty-five.  What an
extraordinary response.  It inspires me to work as hard as I can to
make my work fit to publish so I can place l'église de Sainte-Olive in
the world.

A thousand thanks--

Subject: Re: Name the church
From: myoarin-ga on 13 Oct 2005 16:27 PDT
Dear Tryx,
Wow, a question with my name in it  - like being "mentioned in
dispatches" in military correspondence -  what an honor!
Actually, I did suggest (last comment to #572155) using the name
Church of the Holy Virgin, one that existed in the 13th century,
because I figured that maybe the "better class" would congregate there
and that it would be easier to imagine furnishings related to the
BUT I am pleased to defer to Scriptor's St. Oliva and his delightful
"history" and octagonal plan, which relates to that of the cathedral
Charlemagne built in Aachen, a fact that I expect Scriptor has
considered (nice idea!).  The earthquakes in the 11th century may have
damaged it, and it would probably have been quite small, as Scriptor
suggests, so that the reconstruction led to the expansion for its use
a parish church and also for the pilgrims.
I don't have to understand how Einhard (also Charlie's biographer)
came into possession of St. Vaast's walking stick, but he did have
relics that he left to the church he had built in Seligenstadt near
Frankfurt.  Perhaps the church had to seriously defend its rights to
the relic against people who felt it must be transferred to the church
of St. Vaast.  That could be a recurring strife for centuries (but
probably not part of your novel).  Possession of relics was also an
economic consideration, drawing pilgrims and their donations.
But how did the German Hartmut get to Béthune and manage to finance
his church?  In the party accompanying Charlemagne to his coronation
in 800, there was one Lauren from Béthune, who saw in the handsome
young and pious Frank a husband for his daughter.  Very subtly he
suggested that he could help him fulfill his vow ...  Of course, their
first daughter was named Olive.

Tryx, let Scriptor build your church.  I am sure it will be perfect.
Regards, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 13 Oct 2005 22:55 PDT
Brilliant, Myoarin.  What a team!  Makes me want to write a whole
backstory for just this one little part.  But I will instead draw upon
it with a detail here, a detail there, suggesting a larger story that
could be told but isn't.  Like, you know, the giant rat of Sumatra and
the depth to which the parsley had sunk in the butter.

Many thanks,
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: myoarin-ga on 14 Oct 2005 19:19 PDT
Dear Tryx,
Anything to please and entertain.  :D
Of course, my bit of addition to history is superfluous to your novel.
 I was/am mostly concerned about how "Hartmut" got to Bethune. I think
he was from quite far north in Germany, perhaps from an area still
unconverted to Christianity, but he had converted, of course, and gone
on to earn military honors in Charlemagne's service.  And maybe I was
hoping to memorialize myself in an off-stage role as his
father-in-law, but having the wooden bear called "Myor" is much
better, thank you.  And to justify that, it could be a corruption of
"urs major".  (There was a minor industry of carving little wooden
bears to sell to pilgrims, and because they were heathen images, the
pilgrims had to have them blessed  - at the price of another donation.

Scriptor's architectural work is delightful.  I was expecting that the
later addition would have been larger in its proportions relative to
the original octagon, for two reasons:  the earlier part could have
been quite small, almost a miniature chapel, being a privately
financed edifice with just a wooden gallery; whereas the addition
would have been financed by the parish (and the pilgrims coming to
flagelate Myor*  - for another donation), so that  - in my envisioning
-  one would enter the church with the gallery quite low over one's
head, pass between the columns, and then enter the Romanesque nave,
which would be an even higher space with windows in the upper walls of
the basilica.

Scriptor, sorry; it is so easy to second guess after someone else has
provided the model.

The "study" would in church terminology be the Sacristy.  You can read
about it here, might check the description in your other languages:

It could have Gothic elements in 1300 (pointed windows), if you need
to describe it in more detail.

It takes longer to read a few lines than to take in a picture, which
should not distract from Scriptor's much greater input. (1 pic = 1000

Oh, and your priest can say his rosary while walking around the
columns of the octagon  -  or if you really want to get tricky -  he
can walk a path that creates an eight-pointed star, going around one
column and then to the third one ("Father, Son, and Holy Ghost") to
the right or left, and so on.  Since the expansion of the church has
removed two columns, this will have to be an old tradition that still
remembers them, perhaps with a path worn in the flagstones.

*In Mecca, the pilgrims throw rocks at two columns that represent the devil.
It's a fine old tradition.  Who knows, maybe the pilgrims in Bethune
collected the bits of wood flogged from the statue to prove that they
had done the ritual.
Maybe the teeth are the only thing left of the original statue, its
having to be replaced.

Poor Myor  :)
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: tutuzdad-ga on 14 Oct 2005 19:45 PDT
Scriptor, dude.....O U T S T A N D I N G !!!
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: myoarin-ga on 15 Oct 2005 05:25 PDT
YES, INDEED!  I should also have been more fulsome with my praise for
Scriptor's time-consuming work, but didn't want to preempt Tryx's
response.  Scriptor deserves to wallow in admiration, but it is clean
stuff, not like flattery.

Since I had to look up "feretory" myself, I can explain that it is a
reliquary.  Here are pics of a couple in casket form, which seems to
fit Scriptor's description.
(scroll down to the picture)
These are nice because they are from the period.  The one in the Czech
Republic is from France and has a fantastic story of its own.
You can find more photos of it that enlarge on Google Images with:  reliquary maur
The Norman reliquary appears to be gilt wood.  St. Vaast's staff would
probably have only been a fragment, so the reliquary/feretory could
have similar dimensions but be much smaller, maybe two or three feet
long, big enough to have space for the carvings.  Its authenticity
could easily be disputed, as is the case with many, many relics. 
Maybe Einhard just told Hartmut it was St. Vaast's when he heard that
he was going to Bethune, wanting to help him gain immediate respect in
his new and foreign home, while knowing that he (Einhard) had bought
it in Italy as the piece of a revered bishop's staff.  (That settles
the provenience, hopefully not too cynically.  As Charlemagne's
chancellor, a political person, Einhard might not have been above a
little trick or two.)

Tryx, maybe your book can have some spurious endnotes?

Regards, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 15 Oct 2005 11:28 PDT

All your suggestions are excellent.  I understood that you were
filling in the spaces so I could have a complete, clear picture. 
Every bit that you have supplied (except, perhaps, the iron nails) has
aided the cause.  And I might just save the nails for another use.

I did look up all the names you suggested and followed all your leads
over on #572155, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to
make St.
Barthélémy work.  I didn't mean to disregard your suggestion of St.
Vierge.  It's just that I had already decided by then that I needed a
fictitious church that I could do with as I pleased because I could
not find out enough about the real ones and/or they weren't malleable
enough to serve my need.  And if I had--well, then, the fascinating
edifice honoring Sainte Olive would not exist.

And I'm happy that you like "Myor" because that is just about decided.
 If my story ever sees print, I hope my friends on GA can actually
read it and not just comb it looking for things they recognize!

As for spurious endnotes, a possibility.  It is already loaded with
fictions upon fictions, including a fictitious diarist and a
fictitious editor and translator.  I find that writing outright
fabrications as solemn history is hugely entertaining.  Don't you?


P.S.  Not "fulsome," please, dear.
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: byrd-ga on 15 Oct 2005 17:26 PDT

Gaping astonishment and admiration for such work, even from you, our
always outstanding colleague. Just incredible.  Well done!

Awed regards,
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: myoarin-ga on 15 Oct 2005 19:04 PDT
Dear Tryx and Scriptor,
I take back the "fulsome"  ("buttery: unpleasantly and excessively
suave or ingratiating in manner or speech; "buttery praise"; "gave him
a fulsome introduction"; "an oily sycophantic press agent";
"oleaginous hypocrisy"; "smarmy self-importance"; "the unctuous Uriah
Heep"; "soapy compliments""), 
absolutely the wrong word.

Now that my foot is out of my mouth and back under the table --

I had almost forgotten the iron nails, but I can happily forego them 
- being flayed till the splinters fly is enough castigation,
especially now that I feel a personal attachment to "urs major."
I woke up yesterday morning with sudden idea that "my" little wooden
souvenir bears were called "Orsmïn", a curious name that no one in the
14th c. could explain  - nor tried to.  Only centuries later  -
perhaps by your fictitious translator -  was it understood that this
was a corruption of "urs minor".

But enough cutsie ideas from an egotistical, erstwhile oarsman. ;)

Tryx, there is no need to explain what you don't use or why; its your
book, and I won't know until I get to read it, being most curious
about the plot that brings all the related questions together.  But,
of course, your supportive comments are hugely appreciated, and yes,
indeed, it is very delightful trying to fabricate something that COULD
have been.
Having said that, I'm a bit worried about the bear as an incarnation
of the devil being inside the church, but  - ever inventive -  I will
speculate that he was originally outside, and when it was discovered
that the pilgrims were flogging him, at some time  - maybe when the
nave was built, and the church needed money -  it was decided to move
him inside so that donations could be collected.  :)   Another endnote

Give us another question!
Regards, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 16 Oct 2005 13:17 PDT
Hi, Myoarin,

I don't know if I can do something with Orsmin, but I'll think about
it anyway, thanks.  Not bad etymology!  The souvenir carvings could
have a place.  I can probably work out the flogging bit without
putting the statue on wheels.  Donations for everything--good point,
mustn't forget that.

Next question?  Okay:  #580969.  Have fun.  You sure you wouldn't just
like to be my full-time RA?

Thank you!
Subject: Re: Name the church
From: myoarin-ga on 16 Oct 2005 17:44 PDT
Hi Tryx,
I already am trying to be your research assistant  - when I am not
just being trying by not being able to resist letting my fantasy get
away with me, e.g., "orsmïn".  My fun, not necessarily yours.
Statue:  I hadn't envisioned it on wheels.  It was outside, and then
they wrestle it inside, but maybe we have different images of it. 
This is mine, but much flagelated and without much definition:
and I was thinking his head was smaller.  If you were thinking of a
bear on all fours, well, take your pick:
I reckoned that he was erect, carved from a tree trunk, a good deal
easier than one on all fours  - and also easier to see over someone's
shoulder, as I think I remembered that you had planned.

Next question:  I am relieved that someone has jumped on it already. 
I think dovecotes stink  - all those bird droppings.  They would have
had a good door to keep people from robbing the nests.
I guess I love practical history more than I had realized.
Best regards, Myoarin

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy