Vienne Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Maurice, was the epicopal see of the primate of the ancient Septem Provinciae and of the Archdiocese of Vienne until its abolition confirmed by the Concordat of 1801. It today serves as co-cathedral of the Diocese of Grenoble-Vienne. The present-day building was erected from 1130 onwards.
Mentioned as the burial place of the Burgundian king Boso of Provence in 887, no traces are left from the former church buildings at the site. Construction works at Vienne Cathedral are documented under the tenure of Archbishop Léger from 1030 to 1070.
The construction of the preserved church was begun in a Late Romanesque style about 1130. Built over a long period, Gothic modifications and extensions were carried out until its consecration by Pope Innocent IV on 20 April 1251. From 1311, Pope Clement V convened the Council of Vienne, where the clergy resolved upon the dissolution of the Knights Templar. The facade was added in the 16th century, with the capstone ceremony held in 1529.
The present-day building is a basilica, with three aisles and an apse, but no ambulatory or transepts. The most striking portion is the west front, which rises majestically from a terrace overhanging the Rhône. However, the sculptural decoration was badly damaged by plundering Huguenot forces under Baron François de Beaumont in 1562, during the French Wars of Religion.
In the wake of the French Revolution, the Vienne archdiocese was dissolved and the former cathedral became a plain parish church, while the surrounding premises temporarily served as barns or barracks and eventually were demolished.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).