Archive for August 21st, 2018

August 21, 2018

Cathedral St Stephen, Toulouse!

Back to the blog to tell you about one of our favorite cities in France.  I have written several posts on one of our favorite cities of France, Toulouse. If anything my dear late wife Martine father’s side family comes from here. The post that best describes the city in general is here.

Toulouse the pink city

This time I do justice to the Cathedral of St Stephen or Cathédrale Saint Etienne de Toulouse. A city of many Churches, Basilicas, and Chapels, the Cathedral for us is it.


The Cathedral of St Stephen or Cathédrale Saint Etienne of Toulouse and located near the Grand Rond (a garden).The Church of Toulouse was founded in the 3C by St Saturnin, it’s first bishop, who suffered martyrdom around the year 250 AD. As for St Stephen’s Cathedral, we do not really know the exact origins. According to some historians, it was built on the foundations of a Chapel built by St Saturnin and rebuilt by St Exuperius, 150 years later. However, the first mention that we know of is provided by a charter of Charles the Bald given, in the year 844 AD, for the benefit of the Churches of the city. At the time of the Gregorian reform, in 1078 AD, Bishop Isarn decided to rebuild the then-ruined Church, a new Church located on the site of the present nave known as Raimond VI.


Now divided into 3 bays, it is covered by a vault with the powerful cross-section of square warheads. High and wide by more than 19 meters. The counting of the brick walls, the beauty and the power of the lines, evoke the constructions of the Cistercian order, then represented on the episcopal seat of Toulouse by Bishop Foulques. The rare sculptures are the keystone of the arches, one adorned with the cross of Toulouse, and the Capitals of the armature on the back of the façade. The great rosary would be added later by 1229.  The 13C begat 2 cathedrals, the one evoked above and another joining towards 1270, when the count of Toulouse was attached to the crown of France ,if this project had been fully realized, we would have in Toulouse a Cathedral equivalent to those of Reims or Amiens.


Thereafter, various works executed according to a different plan, bring the fantasy of somewhat enigmatic achievements. These are, in other things, the portal of the Archbishop Denis du Moulin (1447), the big pillar and the steeple of Cardinal Jean d’Orléans (16C). The 20C saw an unnecessary transept arm realized at the expense of a chapel of the 15C. Its architecture is peculiar because it is composed of architectural elements of various eras. The Cathedral adjoins the former Episcopal palace, now occupied by the prefecture government building.

On the Western Wall, you will recognize a rosary, directly inspired by that of Notre Dame de Paris. The main originality of the building is to present two very distinct parts, a Romanesque part at the back of the nave, the nave Raymondine, and a gothic part, the Choir. These two churches were connected  in the 16C by Jean d’Orléans. The Choir is twice as wide as the Romanesque nave, so the central aisle is broken in line. The southern Roman wall was extended by the Gothic church. This gigantic project began in  1272, under the aegis of Bishop Bertrand de l’Isle .

In 1609 a vault in the Choir calls for an initial project provided for a ceiling height of 40 meters, the vault is now only 28 meters, and is nonetheless impressive. In 1794, the majestic bell of 12 or 13 tons, the Cardailhac, was thrown from the top of the steeple, plunged deep into the earth and broke, despite several layers of straw arranged on the forecourt. The fortified Romanesque steeple houses a carillon of 17 keypad bells and 5 on the fly! The Cathedral is the only Church in Toulouse to have preserved its original stained glass windows dating from the 14C for the older ones. It also has an organ with woodworks of Béhorri and Morisot and a altarpiece of Pierre Mercier and Drouet  from 1670.  The history of this Church is so enamelled with modifications, renovations and reconstructions that it could be called “the unfinished Cathedral.”

The furniture of the Cathedral presents a series of works of great interest. In the canopy, incomplete, of the 14C, adorn the Chapels St Pierre, St François, St Augustin, and St Vincent de Paul. The Royal canopy ,15C offers the portraits of Charles VII and his eldest son, the future Louis XI. Remarkable vaulting keys present, among others, the image of St Louis, seated on his throne, Raised in Heaven by two Angels, Around 1300, the Chapel St Joseph, Chapel of Ste Catherine and of a bishop, these sculptures from 1340 by the maker of the Chapel of Rieux ,On the southern collateral, see the woodwork of the choir and the great organ, executed from1610 by L. Béhorri and A. Morisot, constitute a rare ensemble of sculptures, which complement the great altarpiece of the master altar by Gervais Drouet and Pierre Mercier , from 1660-1668, it is surrounded by grates in wrought iron from 1766 , a curtain in 33 pieces, from the 16C and 17C, dedicated to the history of St Etienne and all Saints Bishops of Toulouse. In the collateral are the tombs of the president of Lestangpar A. Legoust from 1623, the Bishop H. De Sponde, 17C, and the president of Puyvert ,1784. Finally, two paintings of the 17C ;the triumph of Joseph by H. Pader, under the organ, and the Adoration of the shepherds by Nicolas Bollery, School of Fontainebleau.

The tour of Chapels

The baptismal font chapel. On the left side itself it contains the fonts composed of a circular tank resting on a polygonal base. Several entries are engraved on the tank as well as the date of 1305.  The transept wall shows the organs The choir is made up of wooden stalls once fenced by a rood, with a choir organ and a platform for practices, and ends with an Episcopal necropolis, located under the altar accessible after several steps bounded by a balustrade. The gothic nave is surrounded by 15 pentagonal chapels, vaulted in the last years of the 13C.

The Chapels on the right, behind the pillar of Orléans the Chapel of the secondary altar of the Cathedral. The altar and Tabernacle in marble, Louis XV style, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels(Notre Dame des Anges) . erected under the episcopate of Jean d’Orléans at the beginning of the 16C, the chapel has since been dedicated to the Virgin as evidenced by the keystone that represents it the former chapel of St. Lawrence it serves as a passage to the Cour Sainte-Anne.

The Chapel of St. Vincent de Paul was completed in the first half of the 14C. The vault key bears effigy of Saint Dominique the chapel was originally dedicated to him. After the concordat it was dedicated to Saint Vincent de Paul in memory of his stay in Toulouse: He studied theology from 1597 to 1604 at the University of Toulouse.

The Chapel of St. Augustine originally dedicated to St. Catherine whose image is on the keystone of the chapel. It is found below the Annunciation on the stained glass window with the palm of martyrdom and the image of the wheel of its torment.

The Chapel of St. Germaine, originally dedicated to Saint Nicholas, which is on the keystone of the chapel, was dedicated in the 18C to Saint Francis of Paul, whose stained glass traces his life. Finally it was dedicated in 1876 to Saint Germaine de Pibrac.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Chapel was restored in 1879. The reliquary dates from this time it is in painted metal.

The Absidials Chapels are: The Chapel of the Relics disposed of the closed niches of bronze grates, which contain the relics of different Saints. The oak confessional of 17C and other the Chapel of St. Joseph, the Chapel of the Sacred Heart , the Chapel of Saint-François-de-Sales, and the Passage Chapel towards the Sacristy, this Chapel finished around 1279, was originally dedicated to the body of Christ.

The Chapels on the left (from the Sacristy) are the Chapel of Saint Joanne of Arc; This chapel dates from 1279. The current decorations date from 1922 after its canonization in 1920. It became a memorial for the parish soldiers who fell in WWI. On the right is a statue of St. Clotilde and left of Sainte-Geneviève. The Chapelle Saint François-Xavier, completed in 1279, was originally dedicated to Saint Martin, which is always present on the keystone. Reworked and restored from 1843 to 1846 the Chapel is then consecrated to St. Francis Xavier. The Chapelle Saint-Roch, this Chapel contains the cenotaph of Joseph and Jean François Sylvestre Roux de Puyvert. Work in polychrome marble of the sculptor François Lucas 3rd quarter of the 18C. The Chapel of Saint Peter, completed in 1286, is the seat of 24 canons whose group was created in 1259. The Chapel of Saint James (St Jacques).


The ambulatory it enshrines the Choir and serves the Chapels. The two organs are located in the Gothic part. The Tribune organ of the Cathedral weighs about thirteen tons. It is 12 meters high and 10 meters wide. It is not placed on a stand, but hung on a vertical wall. The original organ dates from 1612. Restore the last several times in 1977. The Choir organ by Aristide Cavaillon-Coll (organ factor) dates from 1868.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here in addition to my blog post of course, are

Official site Cathedral St Stephen Toulouse

Tourist office of Toulouse on the Cathedral

There you go, a nice Cathedral, great city of pink and just a wonderful time always. One of my fav spots for retirement in my belle France!

And remember , happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

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