Cathedral Saint Louis of La Rochelle !!

I have passed by this town lots of time on my ways south,  my oldest son got a training as part of his chef studies that happened to be at La Rochelle!  So we headed for La Rochelle and it was a blast, we love it another destination found in our belle France. Like there is no end lol!!!  La Rochelle is in Charente-Maritime dept 17 in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine and is an ocean harbor. I like to update this older post with new text and links on the wonderful Cathedral Saint Louis of La Rochelle !! Hope you enjoy the post as I.


The Cathedral Saint Louis of La Rochelle was built from 1742 on an initiative of the Cardinal of Fleury and the Bishop, Augustin Roch de Menou de Charnizay, it remained unfinished for lack of financial means, but was still open to worship in 1784.  The nobles of the area donated land called the Champ de Guillaume de Syré, located between the gate of the Petit-Comte (west entrance of the rue Aufrédy) and the old Port of the castle ( Place de Verdun) to build a Church under the invocation of Saint-Barthelemy.  The church was erected in parish by the Bishop of Saintes, Mgr Ponce de Pons, in 1217.


Fast forward to 1429, when king Charles VII accepted the title of founder of the chapter here. In 1542, king François I attended Mass in the company of the princes and bishops, before going around the city.  In 1558, David, chaplain of the King and Queen of Navarre visiting La Rochelle, preaches in the pulpit of St. Bartholomew, the first, the dogmas of the Reformation.  In the victory of 1628, king Louis XIII dispossessed the Protestants of the Great Temple. The king vowed to make the defeated city an episcopal seat whose Great Temple was to become the Cathedral. In this expectation, the king confided to the parishioners of St. Bartholomew the guard of the Great Temple which became Saint Barthelemy of the Great Temple. The king’s vow was realized in 1648, when the Pope transferred the episcopal seat of Maillezais to La Rochelle. In 1668, the construction of a new Church is undertaken at the site of  old Church destroyed during the wars of religion, which was completed 10 years later.  In 1678, the first Mass was celebrated in the rebuilt Church .During the French revolution in 1793, the Church Saint-Barthélemy was made into a cereal market . It later became a place for concerts and finally in 1797, it was sold and demolished.


The first Cathedral was the Church of Saint-Barthelemy-du-Grand-Temple. This building is the former Great Temple of the Reformed Church built on the Place du Château, current Place de Verdun, between 1600 and 1603. After the destruction of the Great Temple and the inability to transform St. Barthelemy’s Church into a Cathedral, projects were studied to erect a new Church, but budgetary considerations and the priority given at the end of the 17C to the emergence of a new enclosure for the city did not permit the launch of the site.  In 1742, the first stone of the new Cathedral is blessed.  After further funds constraints the work resumed in 1773. By 1784, in the presence of the clergy and all the civil and military personalities of the city, Mgr de Crussol of Uzès consecrated the Cathedral.


At the dawn of the French revolution, the Cathedral was built to the second span of the present choir, beyond which a wall separates the new Cathedral of St. Barthelemy’s. In 1802 , the Cathedral is returned to the cult. The construction of the new Cathedral is taken from 1849 to 1857, the Cathedral is completed with the exception of the two towers and exterior sculpted decorations. The Cathedral, having taken the bell tower from the last parish of  Saint Barthelemy,  was placed under the prayers of Saint-Louis and Saint-Barthélemy.  By chance of the calendar, their respective feasts are on August 24th for Saint-Barthélemy and on August 25th for St. Louis. Even thus, locally is simply call St Louis.It is raised as Cathedral since 1898.

Some of the architecture and historical Chapels are to follow:

The bell tower of Saint-Barthélemy is Gothic in style and adjoins the bedside of the Cathedral. During the reconstruction of St Barthelemy’s Church in the 14C – 15C, the steeple was built on the southwest corner of the building. This construction is attributed to the generosity of King Charles VII, named founder of the chapter of the Church in 1429. The summit is accessed by wooden staircases, the stone screws and the high vault having been demolished in 1651.. The bell tower contains the three bells of the Cathedral: Marie-Ursula  from 1818, Louise from 1818, and  Louise-Marie-Aimé from 1887.

The Chapel of the Virgin has a cupola dome adorned with a homogeneous pictorial ensemble consisting of 6 paintings depicting the scenes of the life of the Virgin surrounding the painting of the Assumption dated 1875. The other paintings represent the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the flight to Egypt; the swooning of the Virgin; and the Virgin of Pity.  Each portrait consists of two contiguous copper plates . The Chapel of the Sailors(Marins) , the paintings come from the  Church of Saint-Jean-du-Perot, the former fishermen’s Church. This Church was located in the Saint-Jean-du-Perot district of La Rochelle, a district delimited by the tour de la chaine (chain tower) and the  tour de Lanterne (lantern tower) (see posts) and the Rue Leoncé Vieljeux. It was one of the five historical parishes of the city all the paintings and ex-votos are grouped in a Chapel of the cathedral, which became the Chapel of the Sailors. Most of these works represent shipwrecked ships, while the Virgin intercedes to save their crews.


The Saphir, presenting a slave ship, recalls the participation of the port of La Rochelle in the slave trade. The ex-voto shows the ship Rochelais Sapphire immobilized for lack of wind between the coast of Guinea and that of Santo Domingo, threatening to famine the crew and the slaves. The painter represented several black slaves begging Christ. The main shipowner of the ship, Giraudeau, was Protestant and it is likely that Captain Rossal was also; this could explain the choice of Christ as intercessor in the place of the Virgin. The painting had to be painted in 1741 or shortly thereafter by an unknown artist.In the basement , there is a Roman stone slab 


The stained glass windows were created in the 19C by three different workshops. Previously, the berries were simply furnished with white diamond-cut glasses and placed with lead fasteners. The existing stained glass windows were set up between 1872 and 1892.

The Great Organ at  the present Tribune corresponds to the project and plans of Brossard, dating from 1835. It is destined to receive the first organ of the Cathedral.  The organ is built in 1867 by the manufacture Merklin-Schütze and has been preserved almost intact until today. In 1869, the factors built a new buffet, the former of John Abbey not proving finally reusable for the new instrument. The Great Organ of the Cathedral allows to interpret the music of the 19C.

The Choir Organ is located in the first right-hand span of the choir. It is a work carried out in 1860-1861 by the Maison Merklin-Schütze in Paris. It consists of a Second Empire style buffet in oak with a central side of 13 pipes framed by 2 turrets themselves flanked by 2 small silent platforms. It has a vegetable decor on its turrets and above the cornice. The pipes are in tin.

The La Rochelle tourist office on the Cathedral:

The Parrish of La Rochelle Centre on the Cathedral

The Charente Maritime dept 17 (atlantic cognac) tourist office on La Rochelle

There you go folks, a grand old Cathedral Saint Louis by the harbor town of La Rochelle. Wonderful indeed.  You have it all now to see this beauty, and hope you do.

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

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