SAINT-MARTIN CHURCH

The Saint-Martin church in Torny-le-Petit was built on a hillock with sweeping views. It contains striking contemporary stained-glass windows, both figurative and ornamental.

In the 19th century, a peasant levelling his field was surprised to discover objects in bronze and iron: he had stumbled upon an Iron Age burial mound and was holding ornaments of Etruscan origin. A fragment of marble bearing a Roman inscription allowed archaeologists to conclude that the church was built on the site of a temple dedicated to the god Janus.

The first church in Torny was founded by the bishop of Lausanne in the 9th or 10th century. The current sanctuary was consecrated in 1823 and transformed in the late 19th century. It is dedicated to Saint Martin, the monk and bishop who died in the year 397.

The stained-glass windows are striking, with intense colours reminiscent of Hindu miniatures. In 1989, the Swiss painter Claude Sandoz designed his first windows, inspired by his numerous travels through Asia.

His illustrations of the life of Saint Martin, as told in the Golden Legend, are extraordinary. It is easy to get swept away by the images. Note, for example, all the animals in the first window on the right, particularly the bear: in a deep forest, Saint Martin's donkey has been eaten by a bear; the saint has therefore forced the animal to carry his luggage instead. Can you see the donkey now too? The most famous episode in the life of this bishop is represented in the middle window: the young soldier cut his cloak in half to share with a pauper. In the choir, the eyes of God are fascinating. They express the world of the artist, who uses traditional emblems and leaves his own very personal mark on them.

In the 19th century, the region of Torny-Middes was famous for its witches and wizards. In 1458, a local inhabitant was judged in Lausanne. Suspected of heresy, he was questioned (i.e. tortured) and condemned to burn at the stake.
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