Meaux and the Cathédrale St Etienne!!!

And voilà , I have to update revise change pictures on this very dear place. One of the first monuments I saw in France, and the first since 1990. That is the year I married a girl from Meaux, and she took me here first inside and on the Bossuet garden behind it. A romantic walk that today is even more dear as do not have with me this lady due to the bad cancer. Martine will always be with me and her city is very dear as well as the Cathédrale Saint Etienne de Meaux!

 

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For reference, the Bossuet Garden was created in the 17C, under the episcopate of Dominique Séguier, in line with the French formal gardens and has a symmetrical shape reminiscent of a bishop’s miter. The locals swear the creation of the garden to a young André Le Nôtre.

I had 3 posts on it with different pictures and rather than update each, will condense into just one post. It will be my reference post to the cathedral and hoping you will like it and visit when possible. It is one of the dandies in all of France.

I was last there in December 2018 after her passing went to see the family who still lives in villages around Meaux, and of course needed to stop the city with my sons. My visit to my beloved city of Meaux, brings back many wonderful happy moments. The St Stephen Cathedral of Meaux is what is  one of the great Gothic Cathedrals of France.

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The St Stephen Cathedral was built over a long period from 1170 to 1560; and is one of the best example of Gothic art in France. At the beginning it was built similar to the Cathedral of Evreux in Normandy; than came the war with the English and work stopped as the city was occupied from 1422 to 1439.  The north tower (60 meters high) was built but not the south tower between 1505 and 1540.   The Cathedral is 279 feet or 85 meters long by 98 feet or 30 meters wide and 187 feet or 48 meters high small compare to other Gothic Cathedrals. You see wonderful sculpture timpani on the western side dedicated to St John the Baptist to the Virgin Mary on the south and the Last Judgment in the center. The transept facades are dedicated to the life of St Stephen (fr. St Etienne). In the interior the decorations are very high and well noted the tomb of Bishop Bossuet, from 1682-1704. He was the personal confessor of king Louis XIV and was known as the Eagle of Meaux for his help of the city. From 1834 to 1914 a big restoration project was undertaking as the stone of Varreddes were found to be weak in holding the weight.

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It has many things to see but the most remarkable are the stained glass of the Crucifixion (14C), the grand Rosary window (15C), a wonderful organ (17C). In the south Chapel you see the funerary stone of Jean Rose and his wife, also the tomb in stone of Jacques Bénigne Bossuet on the south side of the choir, the Eagle of Meaux.  There is a cabinet room of work of Bishop Bossuet built in 1670, it is along fig trees promenade along the old ramparts.  There is even a Rose name after him or simply the Rose Bossuet and planted in the garden since 2004.

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A bit more on the latest history and construction:

In 1317, the king of France Philippe V along donated a plot to build two additional radiant chapels. Around 1331-1335, a bourgeois of Meaux, Jean Rose (today a boulevard name after him) , financially supported the construction of the last lateral chapel to the right of the nave. In 1335, King Philip VI allowed the extension of the nave of three bays, the latter, located to the west of the cathedral. The work resumed in 1390, with the construction of the left part of the first three bays; the construction site lasts until 1410. The first three bays of the nave were completed only during the second half of the 15C. Further work still follows: the fourth and fifth spans of the nave are modified to display the flamboyant style at the end of the 15C. The North tower was finally completed following a long campaign ranging from 1505 to 1540. As for the North Gate, it was completed before 1506. The same goes for the first north side chapel of the nave. Most of the stained glass windows were executed in the 19C and are therefore of recent construction. Some stained glass windows date back to the 14C, like the one at the back of the altar.

The main figure here and also one of the better known in French history was  Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704) was the most famous of the bishops of Meaux. Particularly renowned for his eloquence, he preached repeatedly before the king and the court and was even instructed to instruct the Dauphin, son of Louis XIV, for ten years. In 1681, he obtained the Siege of Meaux, which had the advantage of being close enough to Paris and of Versailles to allow it to maintain its ties with the court, while ensuring the direction of his diocese. It was also dubbed the Eagle of Meaux as opposed to Fénelon, the “Swan of Cambrai”, whose style was more suave. The two prelates are fought on the question of “quietism”, a mystical approach to the divinity of which Bossuet obtained the condemnation. He was one of the most ardent proponents of the conversion of Protestants, imposed by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. In the context of the administration of his diocese, Bossuet sought to combat anything which, in his view, threatened the greetings from the faithful. He was fiercely hostile to the puppets and the dance that distracted his flock.   Comparing his condemnation with the position of the Church towards the actors like what happened to Molière’s death at the same time.

After a slow and painful agony, Bossuet dies in a house currently located at 46 Rue Bossuet in Paris on April 12, 1704 of the formation of kidney stone disease. The funeral services were done at the Church of Saint Roch in Paris.  The Cathedral of Meaux houses the tomb of Bossuet, located near the high altar, as well as two monuments in white marble erected in memory of the famous bishop. The most imposing of these sculptures, installed in 1911 in the north side of the nave, at the top of a pedestal flanked by four characters: Henriette de France, for which Bossuet did the funeral prayers of the Dauphin of which he was the Bossuet teacher , Louise de La Valliere, mistress of Louis XIV who entered the convent of Carmel on the advice of Bossuet and Turenne; converted by Bossuet . On the reverse is also carved a bust in medallion, with the inscription Rocroi ;   showing the event of the Prince of Condé who won the Battle of Rocroi in 1643 under the influence of Bossuet.

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There is a museum Bossuet on his story and that of the city of Meaux and the Cathedral very nice and worth going in. This time I arrive late but a nice night shot looks very nice me think. Right behind the Cathedral in what was the episcopal palace and also has nice gardens jardin Bossuet! Enjoy it; the webpage: https://www.musee-bossuet.fr/

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The Cathédrale Saint-Étienne has a wonderful organ and concerts are regularly held here. The original organ dates from the 17C and the buffet is from 1627 and was one of the most important of its time.  At the end of the 18C renovations are done by the most important names in organ construction. In 1985, the instrument is again renovated in deep traction and puts it at 33 keys on 2 keyboards. It continues renovation to the 67 keys and 5 keyboards on a metal belt. A fantastic acoustic Cathedral and great organ indeed.

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Some of the famous who have relation to the Cathedral of St Stephen are:

Saint Denis (3C) : First bishop of Paris who came to evangelisize in the meldois city (the original celtic tribe that gave the name to Meaux)  in the Roman period risking his life. He was beheaded in 260 in the mount of mars that became Montmartre.  Sainte Geneviève (423-502 or 512, according to different sources) : Patron Saint of Paris. Ordered built a Church on the tomb of Saint Denis. Owner of lands in the Brie region, came several times to Meaux. Saint Faron (†669) : Bishop of  Meaux  in the 7C.  His relics at at nearby La Ferté-sous-Jouarre (77). Saint Fiacre (7C) : Monk and warrior of Irish descend and the patron saint of gardeners.  He was welcome by Saint Faron  that offered him land in the Brie region on the site of Breuil (Broilum), near Meaux, to built a monastery. Philippe de VITRY (1291-1361) : poet and musician, theologician of the Ars Nova ;bishop of Meaux  from 1351  until his death in 1361.  The before mentioned ; Jacques-Bénigne BOSSUET (1627-1704) : men of the Church, predicator, and writer; bishop of  Meaux  from 1682-1704.  He participated in the writing of the  Déclaration des Quatre Articles (1682) about the liberties of the Church and author of  Sermons sur la mort(1662), Oraisons funèbres(1669, 1670, 1683, 1685 and 1687, the most famous of speeches about death), Histoire des variations des Églises protestantes (1688), and Discours sur l’histoire universelle (1681) , and Politique tirée de l’Écriture sainte (posthumously in 1709). Sébastien de BROSSARD (1655-1730) : theologician composer and librarian ; author of the first dictionary of music in the French language (Dictionnaire de musique, 1703) ; chapel master in the Cathedral under the bishory of  BOSSUET ,and Cardinal de BISSY (1657-1737), bishop of Meaux  from 1705 to his death in 1737.

At the end you can easily come from Paris here and make a one day event. Meaux is ,also, very close to Disneyland Paris for another option. You can come here straight from Gare de l’Est or Paris-Est train station to the train station or gare de Meaux, very nice. Also, visiting Disneyland Paris  Marne la Vallée Chessy Sud by bus Transdev bus 19 from the Meaux train station webpage: https://www.transdev-idf.com/ligne-19/serris-meaux/067-032

Also ,from the gare de Meaux take bus 69 to shopping center mall Val d’Europe and there is a shuttle to Disneyland. webpage: https://www.transdev-idf.com/ligne-69/meaux-serris/067-074

The RER A takes you to Marne la ValléeChessy and bus 19 to Meaux or vice versa.  The time on bus is less than an hour and on the express 19 can be as little as 27 minutes according to the bus sites. Just extra for info on those on public transports, of course with a car is a breeze about 20 minutes on following signs for Marne la Vallée on the A4 exit/sortie 3 follow again Marne la Vallée and Val d’Europe you passed the village of Esbly before reaching Disneyland, free and no traffic! Hope it helps.

The tourist office of the country of Meaux on the Cathedral: https://www.tourisme-paysdemeaux.com/index.php/en/3416-cathedrale-saint-etienne

The city of Meaux on the Cathedral: https://www.ville-meaux.fr/fr/tourisme/balade-a-meaux/la-cathedrale.html

The tourist board of dept 77 Seine et Marne on the Cathedral: https://tourisme.seine-et-marne-attractivite.fr/727346-cathedrale-basilique-saint-etienne?private

Definitively you need to see it and come back to tell me about it. Cathédrale Saint Etienne or St Stephen’s Cathedral of Meaux. A magical place even for visitors as to me is sublime!

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

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