The Cathédrale Sainte Marie ,Auch!

And I take you deeper into south deep France of the region of Occitanie and the dept 32 of the Gers, the wonderful expression of French culinary arts in and around the city of Auch. It is more famous for a personage name D’Artagnan but it has a wonderful Cathedral that I like to tell you more of it now.

Sit back and enjoy as I do on the St Mary’s Cathedral or Cathédrale Sainte Marie of Auch!

The Cathédrale Sainte Marie or Saint Mary’s Cathedral is located in Auch. The Cathedral was always dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. A large three-aisle building, 102 meters long by 35 meters wide, it is the seat of the Archdiocese of Auch. Begun in July 1489, on the ruins of the Romanesque cathedral of Saint-Austinde, it was consecrated in 1548, but two centuries were necessary to complete its construction.   It is of flamboyant Gothic style, strongly influenced by the Renaissance. It was completed at the end of the 17C by a façade and a Corinthian porch. It includes a set of 21 chapels. It is especially noteworthy by a series of eighteen canopies, works by Arnaud de Moles, and by the panelling of the choir, including the 113 stalls, of unknown authors, which continue following the biblical scenes begun on the canopies

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A bit of history I like

The first cathedral would have been built in the Gers plain. It was ruined by the Saracens (moors arabs) in the 9C. Ayrard was the first bishop of Auch who received the title of archbishop in a letter from Pope John VIII dated 879. The archbishops will tried to rebuild their cathedral, several times after. The construction of the present Cathedral of St Mary began by bishops and city people who had the taste, if not passion, of the construction of the churches. There were concessions of indulgences for those who would help in the reconstruction of the cathedral from 1469 to 1482. The first stone is laid in 1489!

A bit more on the construction and architecture

The Cathedral of Saint Mary began with the crypt with its five chapels. The construction continued through the ambulatory and its chapels. In 1507, the bedside and chorus of the cathedral until the transept-except the vaults above the sanctuary-were completed. The coat of arms of François de Savoie and Jean-François de la Trémoille can be seen at the base of the buttresses around the choir. It was Cardinal François de Clermont-Lodève who gave a new impetus to the construction of the Cathedral. His coat of arms appears on the fourteen buttresses on the south side. The stained glass windows, made between 1507 and 1513, adorn the eighteen low-lying window of the bedside. It was ,also commissioned the altar of Sainte-Catherine made in 1521, the tomb and the stalls. In 1544, the work reached the level of one of the sundial. The Cathedral was consecrated on 12 February 1548 while the construction of the nave, aisles and doors continued. In 1561, the second sundial is engraved on the south facade. The erection of the steeples had to began around 1559. It was in 1560 the door of the north aisle were finished, and by 1609, the main nave did not yet have a vault. Only the ambulatory and the chapels are vaulted. The western façade is not yet finished, as well as the sculptures of the lateral porches In 1629 ; the altar of the Blessed Sacrament is consecrated capped with a ciborium, a stone canopy carved up to date and then the essentials of the nave and its vaulting are made the stained glass windows of the nave are put in 1641.

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The Cathédrale Sainte Marie choir is almost a church in a church with its vast dimensions,   meters by 12 meters. It is completely fenced by the monumental altarpiece and by the stalls on the other three sides. The choir received, a mosaic pavement and, in its outer perimeter, a rich light oak coating . The Cathédrale Sainte Marie is equipped with two organ of different periods: the Organ of the Tribune or great organ, finished in June 1694; and the Chorus organ of Aristide Cavaillon-Coll, of Romantic period, designed a ensemble acting as a rood at the rear of the stalls with a choir organ surmounted by a great Calvary in the late Gothic style.

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It was possible to access the crypt from the St Mary’s Cathedral by two staircases, one of which is walled in the north. Since the crypt was only to redeem the difference in levels due to the slope, it is at the same level with the courtyard of the former archdiocese. It comprises five chapels placed under the chapels of the ambulatory. The steeple towers are the last floors of the towers. Their sculpted decor, finished in 1680 and are occupied by a ringing of nine bells. Eight are in the North tower. The tower of the clock carries the heaviest of them: the Bumblebee dedicated to the Virgin Mary, done in 1852 and weighing 6 750 kg (2.18 meters in diameter).

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On 3 October 1793 the county council decided to destroy the coats of arms on the walls and vaults of the St Mary’s Cathedral (French revolution). The constitutional bishop is put in prison and the maintenance of the cathedral is no longer assured. In 1808, Napoleon I promised during a stint at Auch to allocate sums for the restoration of the cathedral. The exterior of the St Mary’s Cathedral was built following a plan in Latin cross with nave-nave and aisle-sides-with peripheral chapels and an unflowing transept. Access to the cathedral is through five portals: three to the West giving access to the nave and the aisles, and one to each end of the transept. Inside there are 21 Chapels!!

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Some webpages as usual by me to help you plan your trip are

Tourist office of Auch on the Cathedral

Tourist office of Gers on the Cathedral

TOurist office of region of Occitanie on things to see

Lovely old backwaters area we love to go and plenty of activities with of course the wonders of my belle France such as the St Mary’s Cathedral of Auch. Enjoy it!

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

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