Basilica of St. Martin

Tours, France

The Basilique de St-Martin in Tours is a neo-Byzantine basilica on the site of previous churches built in honor of St. Martin, bishop of Tours in the 4th century. Next to it are two Romanesque towers and a Renaissance cloister surviving from the earlier basilica.

St. Martin died in 397 at the age of about 81 in Candes, and his body was brought to Tours. Martin's remains were enclosed in a stone sarcophagus, above which his successors, St. Britius and St. Perpetuus, built first a simple chapel, and later a basilica (466-72). St. Euphronius, Bishop of Autun and a friend of St. Perpetuus, sent a sculptured tablet of marble to cover the tomb. This Early Christian basilica burned down along with many other churches in 988.

A larger Basilica of St. Martin was constructed in 1014, which burned down in 1230. This was rebuilt as an even larger 13th-century Romanesque basilica, which became the center of great national pilgrimages and a stop on the way toSantiago. Martin's cult was very popular throughout the Middle Ages and a multitude of churches and chapels have been dedicated to him.

In 1562, Huguenots (French Calvinists) sacked the Basilica of St. Martin from top to bottom, especially destroying the tomb and relics of Martin. The church was restored by its canons, but then was completely demolished in 1793 during the Revolution. All the remained of the basilica was the two towers which are still standing. To ensure the basilica could not be rebuilt, the atheistic municipality caused two streets to be opened up on its site.

In December 1860, excavations located the site of St. Martin's tomb, of which some fragments were discovered. A new basilica to house these relics was constructed by Mgr Meignan, Archbishop of Tours, from 1886-1924. Martin's tomb is still a place of pilgrimage for the faithful.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Address

Rue Descartes 1-5, Tours, France
See all sites in Tours

Details

Founded: 1886-1924
Category: Religious sites in France

More Information

www.sacred-destinations.com

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pascal Maurice (2 years ago)
Amen!
Ryan Pearce (2 years ago)
Worth a visit, quiet, peaceful but nothing spectacular.
MissSJ (2 years ago)
Some exterior parts of the church seemed to have ruins on it.
good juju (3 years ago)
Beautiful, peaceful church and crypt.
Tomokazu Hasegawa (3 years ago)
beautiful crypt. restration dome
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Saint Sophia Cathedral

The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.

The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.

The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.

There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).

The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.