France has issued a stamp commemorating the thousand years of the Collegiate Church of Melun, founded in the early eleventh century, in Seine-et-Marne.It was King Robert the Pious who founded this church and entrusted it to a college of twelve canons. Built in the Romanesque style, it now retains its nave, transept, aisles and the base of the original towers.
Son of Hugh Capet, Robert the Pious made of Melun one of his favorite towns and died in the castle that he owned in 1031. During 300 years, the Royal College will benefit from the generosity and donations of Capetian kings staying at the castle.
The church underwent a major rework from the twelfth century with the addition of columns designed to support the vaults, the reconstruction of the Gothic choir, the building of bell towers that would be restored in the time of Francois Premier.
After the Revolution and the abolition of religious communities, the canons were scattered. The church closed in 1844, was restored in 1850 with funds from a lottery. The bombing of the Second World War destroyed much of the roof and stained-glass windows.
It was in this collegiate church that the famous diptych of Melun had been presented until 1775. These now separate panels represent, from one part, a Virgin and Child, in the guise of Agnes Sorel, mistress of King Charles VII, and, from another part, Etienne Chevalier, treasurer of the king and St Etienne, his saint patron. These works are held respectively in Antwerp and Berlin.