The church and hill at Vézelay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. Claimed relics of Mary Magdalene can be seen inside the Basilica. About 1050 the monks of Vézelay basilique Sainte-Madeleine de Vézelay : Guide et plans PDF to claim to hold the relics of Mary Magdalene, brought, they related, from the Holy Land either by their 9th-century founder-saint, Badilo, or by envoys despatched by him. Floorplan of Vézelay shows the adjustment in vaulting between the choir and the new nave.
To accommodate the influx of pilgrims a new abbey church was begun, dedicated on April 21, 1104, but the expense of building so increased the tax burden in the abbey’s lands that the peasants rose up and killed the abbot. Pope Innocent II in 1132 to help accommodate the pilgrim throng. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux preached there in favor of a second crusade at Easter 1146, in front of King Louis VII. The beginning of Vézelay’s decline coincided with the well-publicized discovery in 1279 of the body of Mary Magdalene at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume in Provence, given regal patronage by Charles II, the Angevin king of Sicily. After the Revolution, Vézelay stood in danger of collapse.
The tympanum of the central portal of the Madeleine de Vézelay is different from its counterparts across Europe. From the beginning, its tympanum was specifically designed to function as a spiritual defense of the Crusades and to portray a Christian allegory to the Crusaders’ mission. The art historian George Zarnecki wrote, « To most people the term Romanesque sculpture brings to mind a large church portal, dominated by a tympanum carved with an apocalyptic vision, usually the Last Judgment. This is true in most cases, but Vézelay is definitely an exception. Thirty years before the Vézelay tympanum was carved, Pope Urban II planned on announcing his call for a crusade at La Madeleine. The lintel of the Vézelay portal portrays the « ungodly » people of the world. It is a depiction of the first Pentecostal Mission to spread the word of God to all the people of the world.
The figures in the tympanum who have not received the Word of God are depicted as not fully human. Some are shown with pig snouts, others are misshapen, and several are depicted as dwarves. One pygmy in particular is depicted as mounting a horse with the assistance of a ladder. Vézelay’s political motivation becomes all the more apparent when compared with contemporary portal designs from other churches around France. The Vézelay lintel is distinct, but some comparisons can be made between it and other Romanesque portal sculptures of the time. Vézelay’s lintel is comparable to the St.