According to the history notes inside the Romanesque Church, it was built between 1125 and 1150, which coincided with the arrival of the Knights Templar, after the territory was donated to their Military Order. Their mission was to protect pilgrims travelling the route toward the Holy place of the Church of St. Jaçques de Compostelle in Spain.
The Church of Genis du Bois provided a stopping place for pilgrims to rest, and pray. It is typical of many churches in the south west of France, with a simple rectangular form, in thickwalled stone on three sides, and a rounded sanctuary wall on the east. It has an open bell tower, and a porch before the entrance. The doorway itself is occidental with four archivolts, decorated in sculptured stone. Each arch draws us, through layers from the “outside” to the “inside”. One arch in particular is decorated with the scallop shells that represent the pilgrimage of St Jacques de Compostella, a sign that it is a pilgrims Church.
Inside, the Church is very simple, having no central aisle, and several small windows. The colours on the wall at present are warm. The most interesting aspect of this Church is the ochre mural on the chancel wall leading into the sanctuary.
The mural displays its date, 1522, and the whole is organised in a vertical band of geometric forms in red colour. In the usual method of the time, the ochre was painted onto the plasterwork before it was dry, and the painter drew guidelines beforehand. It is painted using decorative graphics, and uses symbolic images to refer to the vows of the Knights Templar, and Hospitaliers, those being, obedience, chastity, and poverty. The Order of the Knights Templar is represented by Crosses with eight points. The Eternal Sun is present, a symbol regularly used by the Templar in their seals, and emblems. A bushcock reminds us of the story of St Peter, who denied Christ three times. Or it might represent immortality, and ressurection. The thistle confirms the values of poverty, vigilance, purity of intent, and chastity. The triangles represent the body of Christ, and are embellished with checkered diamonds. The Crosses speak of Christs sufferance, and ressurection. We also see a variety of trees, reminding us of the trees of knowledge and life, and perhaps those of peace, such as the olive.
It so happened that we discovered this Church in passing, at midday. As we walked up the pathway, the bells began to chime, and call the “Angélus” (angels). We were reminded of the old days, when workers had no clocks. The morning bell signalled it was time to go to work. The midday bells, that it was time to rest, and eat, and later again,the evening bells, that it was time to go home.