Cathedral of Sainte-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie!

And why not stay a bit longer in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, a nice town between lovely Pau and the Pyrénées to Spain! I cannot count how many times by here, since 1990! Read my previous posts on the town. It is a nice stepping stone into the mountains, the wines, the history and the architecture. Speaking of which , let me tell you about another gem of my belle France.

The Cathedral of Sainte-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie  department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques 64 in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. I will make it brief, promise.

 oloron sainte marie

The Church of Oloron was destroyed in 848 by the Vikings when they ransacked the city.  It was around 1102 that the Viscount of Béarn Gaston IV the Crusader decided to build a new cathedral that  began to build on the left bank of the gave Aspe (river). It remains from this 12C Cathedral especially the Romanesque portal protected by the steeple-porch as well as elements in the transept. The new cathedral dedicated to the Virgin was begun at the beginning of the 12C.

oloron sainte marie

The nave was built in the 13C. The present sacristy, former Chapel of St. John the Baptist, was built in the late 13C or early 14C. The  Church was partly burned by lightning in 1302. The choir and bedside are rebuilt in the 14C. Two lateral vaulted chapels of liernes and third-party warheads were added in the late 15C or early 16C. The Cathedral was enlarged  in 1749 by constructing four lateral chapels with altarpieces on both sides of the nave and creating a new decor. This Cathedral was the episcopal seat of the former Diocese of Oloron, which was abolished in 1802 (separation of Church and State). In 1909, the Bishop of Bayonne was given the title of Bishop of Oloron and Lescar. Since that time the diocese of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron has a mother church (Cathedral of Bayonne) and two co-Cathedrals (Cathedral of Oloron and Cathedral of Lescar). The restoration of the Cathedral was undertaken from 1859.

oloron sainte marie

In front of its Romanesque portal, a 12C, defensively-styled steeple-porch surmounts a slate roof. The main eardrum is adorned with a carved cross descent. The Romanesque portal is the work of two sculptors who are distinguished by their technique. One of them is called the Master of Oloron. With his workshop, he worked on the roads of Compostela, the main theme of the descent of Christ’s cross is very rare in a church at this side. This representation takes up the account of the death of Christ given in the Gospel according to John:. Around the cross, you can see on the left, Mary, mother of Jesus, hands on the heart, Mary, mother of James, kisses the Hand of Christ who has been liberated, a character who holds the body of Christ, Joseph of Arimathea holds pincers to denial the left hand of Chris, and the Apostle John with a hand against his cheek to manifest his deep sorrow. Above the horizontal traverse of the cross, two busts, which represent the sun and the moon to recall the darkness that occur at the time of the death of Jesus. At the foot of the Cross, a Crimson. Under the Crimson has been carved a calf or bull’s head whose interpretation is not assured.

oloron sainte marie

 oloron sainte marie

The treasure is made up of articles of Goldsmiths, cabinetmaking and liturgical garments dating from the 17-18C. It is housed in the restored and rehabilitated North lateral chapels.  A curious and imposing cabinet of the 19C, presenting a collection of priestly ornaments from the 14C to the 17C  worn by the bishops of Oloron including a veil, a handle, a stole, two jumpers, three dalmatiques, and two screeds. A nativity scene and figures from the 1Q of the 18C.  Orfrois representing Saint Denis, Sainte Barbara, a holy bishop, the Veil of Véronique held by two angels dating from the 16C. Goldsmith’s pieces from the 16C to the 19C.

oloron sainte marie

oloron sainte marie

oloron sainte marie

The Organ was built between 1647 and 1652. The organ was restored in 1771. The organ was dismantled at the French revolution. Aristide Cavaillon-Coll installed an organ in the 17C buffet in 1870. Stained glass windows were laid in the 19C after the restoration of the Cathedral. A stained glass window depicts Mary’s presentation at the Temple and the Annunciation. Another, representing the Virgin Mary, the Child Jesus and Saint Joseph, from 1867.

There you go a bit of history I like which always look forward to when visiting these places and talking with the local people its just an amazing experience. I was glad to spent more time in the city, see my other posts, there is nice wines, chocolates and food here to keep at least me for a long time… Been the importance of the Cathedral in terms of local folklore, it is not a big size nor highly decorated but worth the detour if passing by Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Oloron Sainte Marie on heritage

Tourist office of Oloron Sainte Marie on the Cathedral

Tourist office of Pyrenees Atlantiques dept 64 on the Cathedral

Tourism of the Bearn region on the Cathedral

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

 

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