The Church of Saint-Étienne of Caen !!!

Always nice to visit Caen again ,after a long hiatus ! We used to come often from Versailles, but from the Morbihan we finally made it ! There are wonderful monuments here that will take more than a day, but we are catching up on Caen and will be back, I have a couple older posts ,and now will splits in posts the abbey and the church even if they are a combine entrance, For now hope you enjoy the new post on the Abbey Church of Saint Etienne of Caen !!! I really had a good time here at last !

Caen ch Saint Etienne front apr23

Caen ch Saint Etienne back apr23

Caen is the political capital of Normandy and home of the regional council ,while Rouen is the administrative capital; a way to please both in the new administrative realignment of France on joining upper and lower Normandy into one again, Normandie. It is the capital City in dept 14 Calvados

The Church of Saint-Étienne or Saint-Étienne Abbey was built from the 11C by William the Conqueror as the abbey church of the Abbaye aux Hommes, (see post) , it became a parish church after the French revolution . At the heart of the beautiful architectural ensemble of the abbey built between the 11C and 18C, its impact is essential on the history of art in Normandy and England.

Caen ch Saint Etienne altar apr23

Caen ch Saint Etienne altar across apr23

Caen ch Saint Etienne altar back apr23

The high facade has almost no decoration except for thin arches around the portals and a carved cross. The facade of the abbey is the first example of a formula destined to dominate the construction of the largest churches in the West: the “Norman harmonic facade”. This consists of two western towers of identical elevation planted on the first span of the aisles, aligned with the main door of the nave, so as to create a rectilinear facade The three lower levels of the facade form a square block, contributing to the massive appearance of the whole ,The towers are divided into three floors of equal height, the progression of which accentuates the momentum of the gaze towards the sky. The lower floor is blind and has seven narrow arcades on each side. The second level is more ornate and less dense: five arcades drawn by twinned half columns. The third level, finally, is more airy and largely decorated: two large bays each have two bays separated by a column. Two Gothic spires in the 13C with height 80 and 82 meters crown these two Romanesque towers. It was rebuilt in the 17C after the spire of the lantern tower collapsed in 1566. The four pinnacles surmounted by spires give it this original appearance,

The nave is 56 meters long and is a perfect example of the Norman Romanesque style. Each of the eight bays, the first of which is occupied by the organ, comprises three levels: that of the large arcades on the ground floor, that of the galleries on the first floor, that of the high windows on the second floor. At the lower and intermediate levels, the arcades are semicircular, double scroll; the high windows offer, for two bays, four decorated arcatures, symmetrical in pairs. The aisles are vaulted with ribs, the galleries are vaulted in half-barrels, the nave is vaulted with sexpartite ribs ,The transept has two crosspieces at the bottom of which there is a gallery and overlooking a groin-vaulted apsidiole, the cross supports a two-story square lantern tower supporting a cross-ribbed vault, from which run arcatures drawn on the first floor by cylindrical columns. The choir of the Abbey Church of Saint-Étienne is the first building built after the attachment of Normandy to the French royal domain in 1204, The decoration of small roses, clovers and quatrefoils is typically Norman. There are thirteen radiant chapels. Decor is very limited The gallery organ case built by the Lefebvre brothers dates from 1741, The original sixty-stop organ was replaced in 1885.

Caen ch Saint Etienne pulpit apr23

Caen ch Saint Etienne organ back apr23

Caen ch Saint Etienne organ apr23

At the end of the 12C, the Abbey Church of Saint Etienne was completely finished, the vaults had barely been completed when the apse was already no longer in keeping with the changes that had taken place in the layout of the choir of large churches. The altar which was near the crossing of the transept is moved further east and an ambulatory built around the choir gives access to many chapels The large chapel at the bottom of the nave on the north side was founded in 1315 , Reconstruction of the vaults and restoration of the destruction of the wars of religions and the fall of the central tower in 1566. The two arrows of the facade are struck down, that of the North is rebuilt in 1706 and again in 1806.

Caen ch Saint Etienne chapel de la trés Sainte Vierge Marie apr23

Caen ch Saint Etienne chapel ste Therese de lisieux apr23

A bit of history I like, did my best to condence as it is beautiful and huge!

 The Saint-Étienne Church of Caen, gives its name to the Saint-Étienne abbey or abbey-aux-Hommes, of the order of Saint-Benoît, of the diocese of Bayeux, of the ecclesiastical province of Rouen. William the Conqueror undertakes with his wife to found two monasteries there which will be decisive for Norman architecture. At his death he built seventeen convents for monks and six for nuns. He wants the buildings to which he attaches his name to surpass in magnificence those which rise on all sides. Around 1063, Guillaume decided to found a Benedictine abbey dedicated to Saint-Étienne in the center of a new district to the west of Caen, Bourg-l’Abbé, In 1063, the Duke entrusted the construction to Lanfranc du Bec, later Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, Saint Etienne or St. Stephen’s Church was built between 1065 and 1083, In late May 1204, King Philippe Auguste of France occupied Caen. The Caen abbeys retained their English heritage until the beginning of the 15C, when Henry IV confiscated them to subsidize the resumption of the Hundred Years’ War On December 4, 1315, foundation of the Halbout Chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame , On September 4, 1414, Henry V seizes Caen, On June 11, 1450, the King of France Charles VII reoccupies Caen.

In 1562 and 1563, during the Wars of Religion, the church was looted by Montgommery’s troops and then abandoned. The stained glass windows, the organs and the furniture are destroyed. The tomb of William the Conqueror, a magnificent marble mausoleum, surmounted by a recumbent figure, was desecrated in 1562 by the Protestants. The remains are entrusted to a monk of the abbey, but in 1563, a new intrusion of the Protestants causes the flight of the monks and the bones are scattered with the exception of a single bone, This bone is replaced in the tomb in 1642 after the restoration of the choir. In 1742, the monks obtained permission from King Louis XV not only to move the tomb into the sanctuary but also to reduce it to a simple vault covered with a tombstone. During the French revolution, Duke William’s tombstone was again destroyed. On May 1, 1790, the Benedictines withdrew, declaring their attachment to their Congregation , On May 17, 1790, the National Assembly abolished the monastic orders In 1790-1791, the Abbaye aux Hommes was assigned to the Calvados department 14. The royal tombs were demolished in 1793, the Saint-Étienne Church was transformed into a temple dedicated to the cult of Reason and the Supreme Being. Following the entry into force in 1802 of the Concordat of 1801, Catholic worship was reestablished in the former abbey, but the latter became a parish church and the religious did not return to the abbey. The bone of William the Conqueror was replaced in 1802 by the tombstone currently visible. This left femur would have been found during the opening of a masonry vault located in the choir of the abbey on  August 22, 1983. Guillaume le Conquérant or William the Conqueror died on September 9, 1087 in Saint-Gervais de Rouen and chose to be buried in the choir of his Church Saint-Étienne of Caen.

Caen ch Saint Etienne tombeau de Guillaume apr23

The city of Caen on the Abbaye aux Hommes

The Caen tourist office: on the Abbaye aux Hommes:

There you go folks, a wonderful awesome City to spend more time for sure we will be back, This is wonderful Caen, with beautiful architecture, nice history and many things to do and see ; a must to stop. Again, hope you have enjoy the Abbey Church of Saint Etienne of Caen !!! as I

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

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