Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Le Mans Cathedral

Today's cathedral is at Le Mans in France, because I saw the picture above online and started wondering why the historic architecture files in my brain didn't seem to have any entry for Le Mans.

The cathedral is a hybrid, with a Romanesque nave and a Gothic choir.

The nave was built in 1150 to 1180; construction was partially funded by Henry II of England.

Henry's father, Geoffrey Plantaganet, Count of Anjou, is buried here; this is the effigy on his tomb.

When the nave was built, it was attached to an 11th century choir. But no sooner was the nave paid for than the diocese set its sights on enlarging and modernizing the choir. This took a while because it required moving a section of the city's walls. Construction of the choir began in 1217 and was completed in 1251. The choir is a Gothic masterpiece, but the effect is marred a bit because it is so much larger in scale than the nave.

Views of the interior.

The glory of the cathedral is the stained glass; most of the thirteenth-century windows from the choir survive.

The Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Julian of Le Mans, the town's first bishop. According to his legend, he was consecrated at Rome in the mid 3rd century and sent to preach to the Cenomani tribe. When he arrived he found they were suffering from a drought and their wells had run dry. Julian thrust his staff into the ground and prayed, an a spring gushed forth, ensuring a favorable reception for his preaching. The miracle is shown on this panel of stained glass from the cathedral. This dates originally to the twelfth century, making it one of the oldest surviving works of stained glass, but it was extensively restored in the nineteenth century.

This window gives you a better idea of what the twelfth century glass looked like before the neogothicists got at it. The top and bottom are modern installations, created from fragments of other, damaged windows, but the two middle panels have been only minimally restored.

Prehistoric menhir installed next to the church in 1778.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Given where this Cathedral lies in France, I'm a bit surprised it made it through the world wars.