in 1699; water-colour in the Gaignières collection
We know nothing for certain about the origins of this religious establishment, of which the earliest mention appears in the year 924 AD in the Redon cartulary. The church is situated at the centre of the old city of Poitiers, near the palace of the Counts of Poitou, dukes of Aquitaine. But it seems to have had less to do with these dukes than with the bishop of Poitiers, the abbot responsible for its community of canons. It also had close links with the town itself and its public authorities, which often used the chapter-house for its deliberations, and which, from 1428 at least, joined each year in the commemoration of a legendary miracle. Each Easter Monday, a statue of the Virgin, known as the Virgin of the Keys, was paraded around the ramparts of the town. This venerated statue still survives today, kept in the choir of the church.