Cathédrale St Pierre of Poitiers!!!

And making my last round on a fanstastic trip with the boys,and Dad to wonderful inspiring Poitiers. As said, we have been here before way back, and needed to come back for more and the pictures! Finally made it and it was a blast!! Love it!!! Wonderful architecture and history to boot in my belle France! I like to tell you at last a bit on the St Peter’s Cathedral or Cathédrale St Pierre of Poitiers!!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Poitiers Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Poitiers. In addition to its title of archiepiscopal church, it has the rank of minor basilica since March 1, 1912. During these two centuries, successive architects have not deviated from the initial plans, which gives the building a great uniformity coupled with a rather attractive architectural balance. this immense stone vessel is however the largest religious building in the city and a landmark visible from afar in the urban landscape. Yes indeed great work beautiful !

Poitiers cat st pierre front side arriv oct21

Poitiers cat st pierre altar closeup oct21

Poitiers cat st pierre pulpit nave oct21

Poitiers cat st pierre necropolis oct21

It is layout in the Angevin Gothic style and is similar to the hall churches by its division into three vessels of equal height. The facade, confined by two unfinished towers, borrows elements from the stylistic grammar of northern France. The interior preserves 13C stalls and a collection of historiated stained glass windows dating from the 12-13C including a Crucifixion, one of the peaks of French medieval stained glass art. The cathedral is built on the site of the ancient cathedral of Hilaire de Poitiers, rebuilt from 839 on the Emperor’s wishes. This primitive cathedral has disappeared. It must have been located not far from the current one, in the lower part of the city, inside the Gallo-Roman wall, which it bordered on. In 1018, a fire destroyed it as well as part of the city in 1024 but it was restored and enlarged by the care of the Count of Poitou, Duke of Aquitaine William the Great. An important council was held there in 1100. The current cathedral was started in the second half of the 12C, around 1162; and it was financed by the bishop and the cathedral chapter but also perhaps by the Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and her husband Henri II Plantagenêt, king of England, as by all the faithful. The construction was long because the church was not definitively consecrated until October 17, 1379. From 1793 to 1795, during the revolutionary period, the cathedral served as the Temple of Reason. The episcopal see was reestablished in 1801. In 1912 it received from Pius X the title of minor basilica.  The cathedral offers very beautiful baroque altars from the abbeys and convents of Poitiers and a sumptuous glass roof from the 12-13C. Note its three key points: the stained-glass window of the Crucifixion in the apse, one of the very first in the Christian world, the stalls considered to be the oldest in France and the great tribune organ, with magnificent sounds, which has come down to us intact from the Ancien Régime(monarchy). The architecture of Saint-Pierre Cathedral is typical of a hall church with its almost identical vault height in the nave and aisles: 30 meters and 24 meters. There is neither side chapel nor apsidal chapel worthy of the name. The length of the cathedral is 100 meters, its width at the transept, 50 meters.

Poitiers cat st pierre altar stalles oct21

The apse of Saint-Pierre Cathedral is hollowed out by three shallow apsidioles, each housing an altarpiece. In fact, it is a wall 30 meters high, adorned with three Baroque altars, each surmounted by a very beautiful stained glass window. We can see, on the left, the central altar, that of the Virgin of the Assumption, and a little further ,the altar of Mary Magdalene. On the far left a representation of the Madonna and Child in polychrome wood. The apse is made up of a simple straight wall nearly 50 meters high, without flying buttresses. It is one of the rare cathedrals in France to present this particularity !

Poitiers cat st pierre chapel ste Magdeleine oct21

Poitiers cat st pierre chapel of the virgin assomption oct21

The Porte Saint-Michel door, pierced on the north side of the nave around 1180, is decorated with historiated capitals which form a frieze. On the high cutters, carved only on the left side, are depicted the Magi who visit Herod and ride towards Bethlehem. On the corresponding baskets, pictured the Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt. On the right, the Annunciation, the Dream of Joseph, the Adoration of the Magi and the Visitation are shown, regardless of the narrative chronology. The facade, set back from the two towers, dates from the mid-13C. It is structured by a rose window and three gable portals. The central portal is illustrated by the scene of the Last Judgment, carved on three registers. Saint Michael, sword in hand, separates the elect from the damned who are precipitated towards the monstrous mouth of Leviathan. Christ the Judge shows his wounds. Beside him stand the Virgin and Saint John kneeling, as well as the angels who display the instruments of the Passion. Characters from the Old and New Testaments populate the arches.  The left portal brings together, in two registers, the Dormition of the Virgin and the Coronation of the Virgin. The characters who crowd around Mary, lying on her deathbed at the moment of her Assumption, are remarkable for the elegance of their silhouettes, for the relief and fluidity of the drapes and for the collected dignity of the attitudes. Above, Christ blesses his mother crowned with angels. In the arch, there are saints, and clerics. The tympanum of the right portal is dedicated to Saint Thomas. This thematic choice is rare in Gothic sculpture.

Poitiers cat st pierre tympan entrance oct21

The interior of St Peter’s Cathedral consists of three vessels that butt against each other Facing the altar in the nave on the right, a tree-shaped labyrinth, drawn in stone less than a meter in diameter at breast height represents perhaps the one that existed on the ground and that has disappeared. Sign of the creation and the unfolding of life, the tree is here elevated to the rank of Christological symbol: the tree of life bearer of salvation, The cathedral has one of the finest sets of stained glass windows from the 12-13C in western France. The three windows of the upper right side are the oldest. In the center, above the altar, there is still one of the oldest stained glass windows in the whole Christian world 12C: the crucifixion window In the middle of the stained glass window, the crucifixion stands out against an unusual red background. Assisted by the Virgin and Saint John, Christ keeps his eyes open in the presence of the soldiers carrying the lance and the sponge. Above the arms of the cross, the Virgin and the Apostles, with various attitudes, are the witnesses of the Ascension designated by two angels. Around this stained-glass window, in the glass roof on the right, the life of Saint Peter is represented and in that on the left, that of Saint Lawrence. The bays on the north side and those in the third south bay are dedicated to the Old Testament, those on the south side to the New Testament.

Poitiers cat st pierre chapel saint sacrement oct21

The painted decorations in the first bay date from the end of the 13C. A painting on a wall of the nave represents Jesus in Gethsemane and dates from the end of the 17C. Another represents the Holy Family. It dates from 1670-1675. In the center is the Child Jesus. Above him, God the Father and a dove which symbolizes the Holy Spirit. On the left, Anne and Joachim, Marie’s parents. On the right, Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus. In the medallions, are represented the great moments of the life of the Virgin Mary.  In the aftermath of the French revolution, a number of works from suppressed convents or abbeys found room in the cathedral. The stalls were put in place 1235-1257. They are among the oldest preserved in France. These stalls are a fine example of Parisian Gothic. There were originally a hundred of them and today there are 37 on each side. Even reduced to 74, they recall the importance of the cathedral chapter.

Poitiers cat st pierre chapel sacre heart from convent oct21

In the south arm of the transept, a beautiful altarpiece dates from the 17C, On the door of the tabernacle, the Virgin who gives a rosary to Saint Dominic and a dog who holds a torch in her mouth are carved. the King of France Louis XIII and his wife Anne of Austria who stopped in Poitiers on their return from their marriage in Bordeaux. In front of the bedside altar, a 17C Virgin and Child. The Virgin makes a rapid movement to move the Child away from the mouth of the serpent which has just arisen under its seat. The flexibility specific to terracotta is singularly suited to expressing the peril of the moment, immediately perceptible in the gestures and the wrinkling of the drapes.

Poitiers cat st pierre chapel virgin et child oct21

Poitiers cat st pierre chapel st Laurent oct21

The St Peter’s Cathedral has organs which are among the most beautiful and famous in France, dating back to the 18C, due to the Parisian organ builder François-Henri Clicquot assisted by his son Claude-François, The great organ was commissioned by the canons in 1787. It was installed in February 1791 leaving the revolutionary period intact, deterioration due to use and the accumulation of dust required restorative interventions during the 19C. The cathedral has a ringing of 6 volleys bells. The drone is found alone in the south tower ,and the other five bells in the north tower. These five bells were cast on Sunday June 15, 1862 by Bollée father and son, founders in Le Mans and baptized on Thursday July 3, 1862. The cathedral treasure is now presented in the south tower. It brings together some sixty works ranging from the 12C to the 20C.

Poitiers cat st pierre nave to grand organ oct21

Some webpages to help you plan your trip and it is a must are:

The Parish of the Trinity of Poitiers on the cathedral 

The city of Poitiers and its heritage , see video on the cathedral:

The Poitiers tourist office on the cathedral :

The Organs of Poitiers on the grand organ of the cathedral

The Vienne dept 86 tourist office on the cathedral :

There you go folks, a beautiful testament to the wonders of Poitiers, a must to see in my belle France. The trip was a success both on happy moments of nostalgia and great architecture/history around us, wonderful , sublime. The centerpiece was the Cathédrale St Pierre de Poitiers, a marvel to be visited and come back for more. For now, hope you enjoy the post as I

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

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