Venus or Grand Goddess of Montastruc (Lamonzie-Montastruc, Dordogne)
A Venus carved into the rock wall and dated by some from the 5th century, at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire and the great barbarian invasions, is present in one of the caves of the old troglodytic site of the castle of Montastruc. It was venerated until about 1970 at the occasion of the annual celebrations of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The parishioners of Lamonzie-Montastruc then came in procession to present in the cave the Virgin of Lamonzie.
Below, an extract of the Society of the archaeologist’s gersois gives an interesting perspective over the origins of the Venus known as Grand Goddess of Montastruc…
Société Archéologique, Historique, Littéraire et Scientifique du Gers
Actes de la huitième journée des Archéologues Gersois
Montreal-du-Gers – Seviac (August 28, 1985)
Published in Auch in 1987
Pages 69 and 70:
« It is therefore manifest that this latest round of cavities concerns subways in magico-religious purpose, whose use was momentary, and where there was no place to resist and defend themselves. Their precise assignment is still often impossible, but we gradually come to understand better this problem, grace known caseload that grows every day. Thus, some may be assigned unequivocally, in funeral worship events; We know indeed much that grow under churches and cemeteries (11); they are put in parallel with the burial pits empty found in the same places, but Swales or liberating ducts in contact with manifest with tombs and sarcophagi, attest that this is funeral cults (fig.4, according to Mr. Ribas 1964). It then considers these pits or these underground as the mansions prepared by the living for the spirits of the dead. The ceiling has two crawling of these cells that we meet later, which evokes a roof, explained as well. When the cemetery is absent and the underground isolated in nature, we need to find another explanation, but always more or less magico-religious and religious. We must think of the old Chthonic myths that make mother earth the origin of all life, be it animal, vegetable, terrestrial or aquatic. We already had an opportunity to recall (12) that the source, caves, and springs were sacred, because that considered the uterine ducts of the great goddess, mistress of the underworld, origin of life in nature. Rural dwellers are necessarily always been particularly sensitive to these myths, and very conservative, they have more or less kept them since the dawn of time. It was therefore quite logical to think to practice religious ceremonies in the heart of this mother earth, to thank her and reinforce the caring attitude. Number of these constructed underground, overdrafts carefully closed to avoid intrusion of land and wildlife, are certainly intended for this use or initiation of officiating priests for the cult. In the Tarn-et-Garonne, Pessoles underground (municipality of Mirabel) delivered a statuette (fig. 5) taken at the beginning for a Virgin and child; It does match no known canon and is in fact a goddess-mother, hands crossed supporting her belly where a child’s head can suggest generator specificity. Eight meters below the surface, one had to penetrate within the Earth and shelter underground did not require such a depth. Therefore, many a place of worship that it is here. We also discovered a woodcut
(fig.6) in a 16th century work (13), which does not seem to have been known to specialists; It illustrates perfectly the worship to the goddess of the underworld, which here takes one child, symbol of life from his breast. There is a worshiping, face against earth, a man in prayer in the position of the orant and others bringing in animals of the underworld (foxes) offering. The underground, depicted many intentionally, do not allow for other interpretations; most of the entries are shown vertical, it should be noted however in the foreground as there are also from horizontal to vertical wells.
Do not forget the seated nude Goddess (fig.7), but without children this time, underground Lamonzie-Montastruc in Dordogne (15), which further strengthens this persistence of distant myths; there is also a figuration of Fox… »