There is obvious architectural evidence from the past in Joch
That is to say the fortifications built around the dwellings and cellars surrounding the old castle, in the highest part of the village.
Only two portals and some outer walls of these fortifications can still be seen today.
The painted ceiling of the « cambra del rector » ( the priest’s room)
The current townhall is located in the old rectory .The secretary’s office is next to the room known as the priest’s room. In the past, the village priest was one of the most important people in the village. In the priest’s bedroom, a magnificent painted ceiling dating from the seventeenth century can be admired. The completion date of the paintings ( September 1693 ) can be read on the central beam of the room. At the top of the walls there are three drawings : one of a boat, another one representing an angler at the river Lentilla, and two drawings of the village.
The current church dates from the eighteenth century. It is dedicated to Saint Martin like the ancient chapel located next to the churchyard which was a Roman chapel first mentioned in 1031. It had a vault where some Lords of the village and some parish priests were buried. ( see the page « history of Joch »). As it appeared to be too far away from the village and much too small, it was replaced by the current church in the eighteenth century. Hardly anything is left from this ancient church, because as tradition had it, its stones were used to build the new and current church.
There is one nave only, ending with a square apse. There are six chapels on either side on the nave. Three to the north and three to the south. The Gothic style bay spans into five parts, each one of them has a brick ribbed vault with a granite keystone. On the back wall there is a gallery. The walls are made of stones joined with mortar.
The foundation stone of the church was laid on May 5th 1756. The construction lasted for twenty years, until 1778 (the date which is engraved on the keystone of the first bay).
The portal made of free stones is surmounted by three balls, one of which is made of marble. The date of March 2nd 1776 is engraved in one of the granite stones.
Inside the church
To the right, just after entering the church, you can see the Roman baptismal font, made in one block of pink marble of Conflent. It lays on a granite millstone. The holy water basin dating from the seventeenth century is also made of pink marble. They both come from the ancient parish church . In the alcove of the baptismal font, you will find an olive wood statue of Saint John, coming from Mas Roubi ( the hamlet below the old village, between Joch and Vinça)
There are several priceless baroque altarpieces in the church ( dating from the end of the sixteenth century, the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries) :
First chapel to the right
Saint Hyacinth’s altarpiece, made by Honoré Rigaud, Louis XIV’s famous painter’s great grand father. This altarpiece was made in 1594 and comes from the convent of the Dominicans in Perpignan. The parish of Joch acquired it during the French Revolution. It is entirely made of painted wood. In the center, the Virgin Mary appears to Saint Hyacinth. To the right, Saint François of Assisa receives the stigmata.
First chapel to the left
Saint Agnes and Saint Cecile’s altarpiece, also coming from the convent of the Dominicans. Made by a painter called Jean- Antoine Marti in 1623. The central statue represents Saint Benedict transformed into Saint Antoine ( who is worshipped in this chapel and celebrated in Joch every January 17th). This altarpiece is surmounted with the Catalan blazon.
Second chapel to the right
The chapel of the passion of Christ ( la Sanch). The only ornament is a beautiful baroque Christ on the cross ( 18th century). Four sculptered and gilded motives representing the evangelists decorate the chair.
Second chapel to the left
Contains the small altarpiece of the Virgin of the Rosary.
Third chapel to the right
The altarpiece of Saint John the baptist comes from the ancient parish church. Most specialists think it was made by Joseph Sunyer ( the great Catalan sculptor who also made the altarpieces of Prades, Collioure…). It retraces several episodes of Saint John’s life in a pure baroque style ( the Baptism of Christ, the beheading…). The date of 1698 can be read on the banner behind the saint ( central statue)
Third chapel to the left
Saint Sebastian is worshipped in this chapel, but its altarpiece is dedicated to Our Lady of The Angels.
Its altarpiece is dedicated to Saint Martin, the patron saint of Joch.
It also comes from the ancient parish church and is dated from 1728.
It is a baroque piece also very probably made by Joseph Sunyer.
Many scenes of the saint’s life can be admired.
In the center, there is the statue of Saint Martin as a bishop as it is celebrated on November 11th, on the right the statue of Saint Gauderique ( Galdric in Catalan), the saint protecting the farmers. On the left, the statue of Saint Joseph is a recent copy of the original polychromatic wooden statue. This new statue was partly financed by the association named « pa, vi i molto » (bread, wine and sheep) from our twinned city of Calella in South Catalunya.
You can contact :
Mr Gérard GENSANE , 17 Carrer Major in Joch ( tel 06 83 10 09 43)
for a guided visit of the church ( approximately 1H30) or / and a guided visit of the village ( approximately 2H)