Riom__9_aThe name of Riom is of origin Celtic: Ricomagum, the borough arverne, (Vicus Ricomagensis) “the rich person gone”, of rico, rich person and of magum, gone, indicates an economic center to the important commercial functions with the crossroads of two great ways, the road of the valley Allier (the Claudia way connecting Augusto-Nemetum, Clermont-Ferrand, in Avaricum, Bourges) and that of the Atlantic Ocean.
The area of Riom was probably populated early. Can one advance a human presence around 20.000 years before the Christian era? Polished axes, objects out of flint, scrapers have summers found during excavations.

Riom__11_aAt the time Gallo-Roman, Riom is then an agglomeration with agricultural vocation without known fortifications which will become at the end of IVème century the seat of a vast primitive parish. No vestige of this time is visible in the old city but the Gallo-Roman settlement is attested by the presence of villae in the close countryside.
At the 5th century, Saint Amable melts a sanctuary, the Saint-Benign church, then a baptistry. It dies into 475. In VIIème, the church is increased and takes the name of Amable Saint. In 1077, a chapter of canons settles. In 1212, Riom becomes capital ground of Auvergne. In 1477 and 1490: several series of earthquakes destroy a good part of the area riomoise.

Amable saint

Riom__19_aIt exerted its ministry in the church of Riom, then was called with the episcopal see of Auvergne (Clermont), probably by saint Sidoine Apollinaire.
It is told that with its voice the poisonous animals and the demons fled. The images and medals representing the saint always carry this inscription “the demon flees, as well as the snake and fire”. One can see in Mirecourt, a fabric of the XVIIème century representing holy Amable, saint considered to protect from the snakes and the wizards.
It died one November 11 of the end of the 5th century. Its festival was however always celebrated on June 11.
Its tomb with Clermont was the place of several miracles whose holy Gregoire de Tours was pilot and which it reports to us. Xème century, one carried out the translation of his relics of Clermont with Riom where one placed them in the Saint-Benign church.

The basilica 

Riom__23_aThe basilica Saint-Amable in Riom, the vastest building of the diocese after the cathedral of Clermont, is dedicated to the saint since VIIème century. It was built in the place of an old vault which Saint Amable made build, at the same time as a baptistry, on the site of an old vault dedicated to Saint Gervais and Saint Protais, about year 450 and in which he was buried into 475.
The building is served by a chapter of canons of Saint-Augustin since 1077 and becomes secular in 1548.

Riom__31_aRaised with the row of collegial, the primitive church was replaced in XIIème century by a Romance construction carried out with the diligence of the bishops of Clermont, undoubtedly by Etienne de Mercoeur. Of this large church, only remains today the nave of seven spans to the cradle broken without beams with sides surmounted above large arcades in tierce points of platforms and some elements of a vast overflowing transept. All the other parts were the subject of multiple successive transformations.


Riom__32_aWith the Revolution, the church becomes a salpetre workshop. Eighteen months later, it is returned to the worship. It is entitled basilica since 1912.  Its architecture is complex since it is marked by all the periods:
The nave bordered of two sides is of Romance style although it is built out of stone of Volvic (volcanic stone) only employed starting from XIIIe century. It would be thus about a late novel.

Riom__34_aThe chorus with bedside with déambulatoire and three radiating chapels rebuilds with typically Gothic XIIIème century and radiating chapels (1230-1255).
The vaults blazing Gothic north of style (fine XIVème century).
Southern vaults going back to 1747 (they fill the demolition of the cloister at that time).
The western frontage of 1750.
The transept and the bell-tower which are rebuilt in 1855. The arrow of the bell-tower had been removed with the Revolution.

Riom__17_aThe Saint-Amable basilica is remarkable by his exceptional dimensions: 64,50 m by 27 m; (Romance nave: width 6,97 m, height 16,15 m); (sides: width 3,50 m, height 7,70 m).

It is it also by the architecture of its Gothic chorus which represents with its three spans and its roundabout, one of the first testimonys of the introduction of the new style in Auvergne.