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 Grand, a prestigious sanctuary
In roman times, Grand was a water sanctuary dedicated to the Gallic Apollo, Apollo Grannus, a healing God and oracle. Discover this incredible site with fascinating remnants…

european institute of cultural routes
Caroline Hamajda
25 March 2009
The sanctuary in Grand

The divinity of the sanctuary:

The name of Grand came from the Gallic god Grannus, better known as Apollo, showing that mankind has long been sure of its divinity.

While Grannus is a healing and benevolent Gallic God, Apollo too is considered as a medicinal God.

The function of the sanctuary:

The function of the sanctuary is directly linked to its main divinity, Apollo Grannus.

The only reference to Grand being a place of worship is an ex-voto on a marble plaque which mentions the practice of the oriental rite of incubation.

Here is a description of the rite of incubation:
“The patient, after taking part in purifying ceremonies and offering gifts, would enter the sacred dormitory-porticos; he would lie down on the skin of beasts, would fall asleep and during his sleep, God would appear to him to give the prophetic revelation he sought or the “prescription? for treatment that would heal him.

Other medical activities were also practiced on the site, as indicated by the discovery of two oculists writings prescribing formulas of eye lotion to treat eye problems and two ivory zodiac tablets from Egypt which could be made up into a tool for a magus involved with astrological divination.

None of this evidence shows the use of any single therapy at the Grand sanctuary, but instead many different activities focusing on the body and the mind.

The continuation of the religious site:

The gallo-roman period was incontestably the most auspicious period for Grand. However, let us not forget the celtic occupation: the celtic god Grannus was honoured at Grand before it was associated with the roman Apollo.

At the end of the roman period, the Passion of Saint Libaire revealed that water-worship had been taken-up by Christianity. From medieval times to the modern period, the memory of water-worship survived through Chapel Sainte-Libaire.

Even now, the annual processions of the saint martyr’s reliquary (23rd June, commemoration of the return of Toul’s relics to Grand in 1792) and of the statue of Libaire (on 8th October) show devotion to the town’s patron.


The ramparts

Grand’s ramparts, with a perimeter of 1760 metres, are the only ramparts of the Early Roman Empire built during a period of peace on ancient Lorraine’s territories.

The layout is unusual as its irregularity is not imposed by any topographical or strategic constraints. Nothing stops the ramparts from being a geometric form; the unusual layout is therefore intentional.

The eighteen hectares enclosed by the walls are also unusually shared. To the East is a zone reserved for public buildings (basilica, temple, thermal baths) and to the West is a zone which has had no buildings since Antiquity, today known as the Grand Jardin (Grand Garden?. The urban layout is not that of a traditional roman town and is extra-mural with an unequal density and distribution.

Studying the structure of the ramparts shows how much care was taken in its creation.

The moat:
The ramparts are reinforced on the outside by a moat. 450 metres long and 1.35 metres deep, it is entirely covered by a thin layer of clay which has been added. It is parallel to the ramparts and in some places the banks join up with a layer of natural clay.

The curtains:
Sat on foundations whose depth varies according to that of the rocky base, the curtains measure from 2.70 to 2.80 metres. Some of the caves serve as foundations to actual houses.

The elevation:
Taking into account the initial depth of the curtains, the rampart walk reaches 6 metres high. It was created from large slabs of limestone. The ramparts are completed by a parapet, topped with crenels identical to those on the ancient site in Trier.

The towers:
The seven towers as seen today are circular. The remains of the towers are no greater than their curtains. Under the theoretical location of the tower to the North of the main gate, a spiral staircase in perfect condition leads to an underground vaulted gallery.

The gates:
Three of the gates are located on the north-east section. The fourth gate, in the middle of the East section is decorative and is covered in sculptures.

The amphitheatre

The first methodological excavations of the amphitheatre were carried out by Jean-Baptiste Prosper Jollois. From 1820 to 1823 he worked on the lateral and southern sections of the building.

In 1840, Jules Laurent, then in 1880, Felix Voulot, opened surveys but the amphitheatre quickly became a quarry covered in undergrowth from which stones were taken to construct houses in the village.

From 1963 to 1976, Roger Billoret led the clearing of the amphitheatre; around 50 000m3 of land was removed to give the monument its shape back.

Constructed around 80A.C., the amphitheatre is the shape of a half-oval, a shape adapted to the terrain but also characteristic of Gaul.

The amphitheatre could hold a huge 17 000 spectators who came to watch gladiators or hunts.

Abandoned at the end of the 4th century, the amphitheatre has kept part of its outer walls and some arches from the large axial corridor.

At the far end of the arena are two chapels (sacella) for worshipping the game’s divinities. A consecration for the God Mars and a small alter for worshipping Jupiter as well as Diane and Nemesis were found by Jollois under the south “sacellum?.

Recent restoration gave the amphitheatre its stands back; their material, an exotic wood resistant to bad weather, should allow the monument to be used for its initial purpose as an arena for displays.

The Basilica

After the discovery of a mosaic in 1883, Felix Voulot found a basilica whose layout was only discovered following the excavations of 1961-1962.

The basilica is made up of a huge rectangular room, open to the East and lengthened on the West side by a second room which itself ends in a semicircle.

This last room was completely paved in mosaic and in all likelihood was used as a Curia or court.

The mosaic:

The main design of the mosaic is made up of interweaving semi-circles, half black, half white. These shapes are followed by a panel decorated with elegant acanthus foliage, then a second panel where different geometric shapes are combined.

In the four corners of the central box are four animals in motion: two are of “exotic? origin (a panther and a tiger) and two are from the region (a bear or dog and a boar). They could signify the seasons or the games practiced at the amphitheatre.

Of the central panel, only the left section remains in which two people are shown standing in discussion. The person on the left, stood under an awning of some sort and wearing a short tunic, carries a mask and is leaning on a staff. The second person, dressed in a long tunic, is shown as being three-quarters under an arcature; he holds his right hand towards his interlocutor. This panel represents for some a scene from latin comedy, for others it is a shepherd asking for a hearing from a priest of Apollo at the sanctuary’s portico entrance.


Detail of the mosaic

Other gallo-roman remains

The temple of "Jardin Huguet" (Garden Huguet):

Numerous archeological discoveries show the presence of an important temple in Grand, important in both size and the richness of its decoration.

The ornamental decoration of this monument is of roman architectural tradition. Its construction is thought to be between the end of the 1st century and the beginning of the 2nd. It also conveys mythology with sculptures and contours. The sculptures include dedications to Gods Apollo and Bacchus.

The thermal baths:

Discovered in January 1969 following improvement works, most of the thermal baths are situated along a road in Liffol, the rest are buried under the houses bordering this road.

In 1963, works to provide water revealed the presence of a room heated by hypocaust. This discovery was confirmed in 1969 and showed it to be the case of many other rooms. One of these rooms has a floor covered in a rich ornamental tiling of chequered marble; its walls are covered in blocks of different marbles, forming marquetry in a great range of colours with mainly geometric patterns.

Worship of Saint Libaire

The martyrdom of the saint:

Many pilgrimages were created after the martyrdom of saints in late antiquity. The saints were often people beheaded by hangmen, then who seized their head. Such a miracle was meant to show that Christian faith is greater than death and that God’s wish is stronger than the violence of pagans.

Elophe, Eucaire and Libaire were born to a rich patrician family. Zealous Christians, they underwent the same martyrdom around 362, during the reign of Julien the apostate. They died in three different places, leading to the creation of major pilgrimages.

Emperor Julien asked saint Libaire to abandon her faith and worship Apollo. As a response, she headed for the statue of a roman God and shattered it with a blow from her staff. Furious, the emperor had her beheaded; she then took hold of her head and went to wash it in a fountain.

Her brother Elophe was martyred not far from Grand, in Soulosse; Eucaire was killed in Pompey, in Meurthe-et-Moselle.

Church Sainte-Libaire:

Built in the centre of the village, the church undoubtedly partly covers a paleochristian building whose importance and function remain unknown.

Originally, the building, similar to a basilica, had a nave covered only with a single roof. In the south-west corner rose a clock-tower, used for defense and refuge by the inhabitants of Grand.

The Sainte-Libaire Chapel:

The chapel is built alongside the old roman road from Grand to Soulosse. This location, used in gallo-roman times by a major public building, then by a necropolis in the Middle Ages, is the presumed location of Saint Libaire’s tomb. The building was built during the first half of the 15th century.

Situated outside Grand, the chapel looks as if it has been neglected; an impression accented by the lack of furniture (benches, alters, choir enclosure) and of the statuary and paintings.

Chapel Sainte-Libaire de la Place:

A chapel, whose construction date is unknown, occupied the location of the wells where, according to legend, Saint Libaire washed her head. The building was in ruins in 1838 so the commune decided to reconstruct it at the edge of the church square.

The current chapel is a small rectangular building inspired by Greek antiquity, covered in an imitation barrel vault.

The "chapelotte":

The small chapel, dedicated to Saint Libaire is situated one kilometre from the village, in the location of a cross known as “of the martyr?, commemorating the supposed location of the saint’s beheading.

The chapel is a modest building sheltered by a large linden tree and whose structure is similar to rural architecture.

The Chapel

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