Cathedral St Alain,Lavaur!

Well in my rounds thru a very dear region of France for my family, I though I had told you all but it seems in my vault there are plenty more to tell you. I am surprise myself not having giving a post to the Cathedral of Saint Alain in Lavaur, the native town of my dear late wife Martine, late father Pierre. And believe me we have visited the town several times as still cousins around..

Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on the Cathédrale Saint Alain de Lavaur.

lavaur

The Cathedral of St. Alain is located in Lavaur in the Tarn department , which was built between 1255 and 1300.  It is 73 meters long by 14 meters wide. A Jacquemart rings the hours at the top of the tower. At the front is the garden of the bishopric.

lavaur cat st alain jardin de l eveche

The origin of honoring Saint Alain at Lavaur remains unknown. The foundation of the Priory of Saint-Alain is attested by a charter of 1098 where the bishop of Toulouse Izarn of Lavaur makes a donation to the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint-Pons-de-Thomières, dependent for them to rebuild the Church of St. Elan of Lavaur, then in ruins, proving that the cult of Saint Alain in Lavaur is clearly prior to this date.

lavaur

A bit of history I like

A Romanesque church was built between 1099 and 1211 by the Benedictines of Saint-Pons for their priory at Lavaur, which was destroyed during the Albigeois (cathars)  crusade during the siege of 1211. The present church was rebuilt in the middle of the 13C, begun around 1255, preserving the Romanesque footprint of the small bell tower south of the Jacquemart. It is of pure southern Gothic style with a large nave unique to slender proportions, the 13C church had only five bays closed at both ends by a straight wall. The erection of the priory in the bishopric of Lavaur in 1317 transformed the church into a cathedral, prelude to the expansion of the building, which would continue until the beginning of the 16C at the initiative of the bishops.

lavaur

In the 14C, the chapels were built between the foothills. In the middle of the 15C, the chapel currently serving as the sacristy, under the term of Saint Martial and in 1480 adjoining to the west, the canons established a chapter hall dedicated to Saint Gauthier. Fresco paintings performed in 1730 adorn its walls, narrating in episodes the story of Lavaur. They are erased on quite a large part by the humidity. It was especially in the last quarter of the 15C, on the initiative of Bishop Jean Vigier, that major works were undertaken giving the cathedral its present physiognomy. It is still the end of the 15C that a chapel is adjacent to the south of the old Romanesque porch, well preserved, to the rich capitals evocative of the childhood of Christ. A new side entrance, adorned with pinnacles, surmounted by the Bishop’s shield, is then carried out on the southern flank of the connecting span.

A bit on the description and architecture

The Altar table, late 11C. Since 1967, the altar of the Choir of Saint-Alain has a table whose exact provenance we do not know. It was found in 1876 in the Chapel of the hospital of Lavaur, but this is not its place of origin. It is possible that it came from the Cathedral and may have been part of the donation of Bishop Izarn to the Benedictines, but another hypothesis would make it come from the Church of Sainte-Foy de la Salvetat founded in Lavaur in 1065 by the monks of the abbey Sainte-Foy de Conques, which then took the name of Sainte-Croix and served as chapel for the Brotherhood of the Blue Penitents. This Romanesque table, in white marble probably of Saint-Beat, is part of the continuation of the production of altar tables of the Ecclesiastical province of Narbonne. The main theme of the anterior face is a Christ blessing in a circular mandorla, is the same on both tables. A series of angels, complete this face. On the right side are represented two angels supporting the altar table itself, a motif found on the stone of one of the capitals of Saint-Sernin (Toulouse). The sculpture on the left side would represent two angels worshipping the bread of heaven. The fourth face was destined to be engaged in masonry and is not decorated.

Lavaur

lavaur cat st alain angels pedestal bishops seat

At the beginning of the 15C, a magnificent portal was adorned in flamboyant Gothic with thomas; at the porch steeple the delicately chiseled ensemble will later be added the two chapels on the south side with very ornate vaults , one of which presents a very decorated niche, currently framing a beautiful pietà of painted and gilded wood of the 17C.  A very nice organ completes the whole feature with a richly Renaissance buffet. At the same time the enfeu to the right of the sanctuary of Renaissance decor, tomb of a bishop of Lavaur. Finally, the first mechanism and the bell of the famous Jacquemart date from 1523. But it appears that the automation (currently 3rd generation) will only take place in 1604.

lavaur

There you go a bit more on it in addition to my other general posts on the region and department of the Tarn! Hope you enjoy, it is another wonderful example of Cathedrals in France. Worth a detour to see the Saint Alain Cathedral at Lavaur!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of the Tarn on the Cathedral

Tourist office of the Tarn on the Jacquemart of the Cathedral

Now fully enjoy it as we do. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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2 Comments to “Cathedral St Alain,Lavaur!”

  1. Beautiful! It reminds me of Albi’s Cathedral with all that brick! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

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