L’Église Saint-Michel-Du-Gast in Roquebillière has an impressive collection of esoteric, Masonic, Templar and Hospitaller symbols. Transferred to the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem in 1141, it was reconstructed in 1533.
On the wall below and to the right of the clocktower, a 666 is preceded by a recent “1”, probably, it is suggested, added by a 4×4 Rally competitor… The columns, of Roman origin, have been reused and the entrance door is surmounted by a Templars’ cross. The splendid baptistery in Queyras volcanic rock is decorated with a six-branched cross symbolizing man, angels, seraphim, and the animal, vegetable and mineral worlds, with God at its centre.
The fourth aisle on the left has a surprising painting of the Apocalypse with a great number of Masonic symbols. Each detail has been placed with precise significance and the work has acquired a certain renown among the brothers. On the wall of the last aisle to the left, a painting shows Saint Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, and to the side, Mary Magdalene with a child. Another unusual element is the sun carved on one of the column capitals which receives the rays of the sun at the spring equinox.
Finally, the highlight of the visit is the opening of a long chest at the back of the church, in which appears a bleeding Christ, terrifying in its realism. It is said to have been ‘moulded’ on the body of a real person.
So next time you are in or around Nice, find this curious little Church and take a guided tour – I can assure you that it will be memorable!!!