Toulouse: Cathédrale St Etienne!!!

And again this is a monumental sight to see in my sentimental Toulouse so needed to update links and revise text. Of course, we have come to Toulouse several times over the years and visit the Cathedral, but this time it seems enjoy it more as took more time and pictures. Hope you enjoy the St Stephens Cathedral or Cathédrale St Etienne as much as we do.

And this is the dandy Cathedral St Stephens or Cathédrale St Etienne of Toulouse . A wonderful monument we always stop by and a must to see while in the pink city of Toulouse. So will give you a more historical twist and pictures this time.  


The oldest parts of the cathedral date from the Romanesque period. These are the south wall of the choir and the north and south walls of the old nave. You can easily see a portion of it from the Place Cardinal Saliège square; it is visible at the level of the current nave, where the wall is in slight relief. It has two oculi, a small door covered with a semicircular arch and two buttresses nested in the Gothic buttresses.



The Romanesque building was shorter than the current nave. It is estimated that it was 20 meters wide by 85 meters long. In all likelihood, it consisted of a western massif with two towers, a nave with three vessels and a tripartite chevet in extension. The aisles were pierced by oculi to the west, surmounted by a platform and consolidated by buttresses. Its construction probably spans between the episcopate of Bishop Isarn 1071 to 1105, and continues under that of his successor Amiel 1105 to 1139.


The construction of the cathedral is linked to a policy of recovery of the Church, in the midst of a crisis since the 10C. The papacy encouraged a reform intended to restore discipline among the clergy, change their customs and consolidate their independence from the laity. Bishop Isarn, notably influenced by the action of the Cluny monastery, introduced this reform in Toulouse in 1073. He had a charter drawn up in which it was required: “Let all the clerics eat together, sleep together. May food and clothing be common to all according to the prescription of apostolic tradition. That the freedom to go and move in any place is only granted with the permission of their prior, so that there exists only one spirit, one soul for those who have only one God , one faith, one baptism ”.


Bishop Isarn had the buildings necessary for this community life constructed. A cloister, a chapter house and a large refectory are built to the south and east of the cathedral. They are added to the group of churches Saint-Etienne and Saint-Jacques. The district, most probably fenced, develops in an area of 2.3 hectares. It is bounded to the east by the city wall. Three vaulted passages, to the north, south and west, open onto the city but are closed after dark. The cathedral is located on the edge of this district to allow people to enter more easily.


The famous sculptors’ workshops of Moissac and Saint-Sernin participate in the ornamentation of this vast architectural ensemble. Part of their production can still be appreciated despite the almost complete disappearance of Romanesque buildings. The capitals of the nave and five others visible in the gallery come from the old cathedral. They can be compared to those dated 1100-1110 from the Saint-Sernin Basilica. (see post)  The St Augustins Museum (see posts) preserves magnificent sculptures from the cloister and the chapter house, some of which are attributed to Gilabertus, one of the major artists of Romanesque art.


The history of the St Stephens Cathedral is marked by the revolutionary period. In France, the Constituent Assembly seeks to establish a new Church. The property of the clergy is confiscated, religious orders suppressed and the authority of the pope rejected. New priests must be elected and swear an oath to the Civil Constitution of the clergy. This new constitutional clergy must leave the religious habit for a civil dress and marry its members, under penalty of imprisonment. The Toulouse priests were summoned on March 6, 1791. The session took place in the cathedral. The majority of religious refuse to take an oath to the Constitution and must flee. Father Sermet, favorable to new ideas, was elected bishop on March 27. Constitutional worship is also prohibited. The cathedral was closed in March 1794. The canonical quarter, which no longer had any reason for being, was gradually destroyed. The cloister was demolished in 1799. The church suffered numerous destructions. The portal statues are overturned, the Cardailhac bell is thrown from the bell tower and the furniture is partially destroyed. The choir serves as a warehouse for the furniture of the suppressed churches.

The nave of Saint-Etienne becomes the place of revolutionary celebrations. It is transformed into a temple of the goddess Reason then receives the worship of the Supreme Being. Then take place the decadal worship ceremonies, during which the laws are read and civic spirit glorified. The persecution of religious ends with the Concordat of 1801, an agreement signed between Napoleon Bonaparte and the Papacy. Christianity regained its dominant place in society. After twelve years of unrest, the cathedral is returned to Catholic worship. In a state of ruins, it has lost much of its wealth. And it came back better than ever,Amen!!!

The tourist office of Toulouse on the Cathedral:

Official webpage Cathédrale St Etienne

And even a revolution could not change the faith. So do come to the Cathédrale St Etienne as it is a wonderful monument testament of enduring faith and beautiful architecture. It is Toulouse so if you are here , you must come to it. Hope you have enjoy the post and thanks for reading me.

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

Tags: ,

2 Comments to “Toulouse: Cathédrale St Etienne!!!”

  1. Bonne année to you, Pedmar! Thanks for reminding us of all the beautiful places awaiting a visit (or revisit) as soon as this dreaded virus is under control. I have never spent any time in ‘la ville rose’ but there are clearly many reasons to do so!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: