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A little history of Saint-Nizier church in Lyon

The façade | Tony Castle / CC-BY-SA
Parish church Saint-Nizier church in Lyon

Aah, we are here in front of one of the oldest church in Lyon, Saint-Nizier.

Nizier? He was born in 513 in Burgundy in a family of senators. He succeeded his uncle Sacerdos as bishop of Lyon.

Oh, but, the façade seems a little wobbly, isn’t it? Yes it is, because of the 2 spires raised at 2 different times: the first one in the 16th century, the other one, in the 19th century, made by architect Benoît, from Lyon.

The Renaissance portal is a masterpiece, made by famous Philibert Delorme...


Saint Pothin raised a small oratory here in 150, where he came to pray with first Christians of the city.

Besides, in 330, people came in a body in pilgrimage, on Pothin’s grave. In the 5th century, they raised a basilica dedicated to the Apostles: it became Saint-Nizier cathedral in 580, because his last remains were translated here.

Several bishops were buried here: saint Rustique in 499; saint Sacerdos in 551; Nizier in 573...

But in 799, a plague from Southern France swooped down on the church: Saracens! Who had tremendous fun and plundered it...

Reraised in the 9th century by Charlemagne’s bishop, Leidrade, here we go again: Vaudois heretics burnt it in 1253.

In 1305, archbishop of Lyon, Louis de Villars, raised the church to a collegiate: in the beginning of the 16th century, the construction of the current church began!

In 1454, they started with the bell-tower, with stones came from Roman buildings in Lyon. The apse, the transept followed.

A rich merchant, Pierre Renouard, raised the altar and decorated all the building. Finally, he almost ended the construction! Almost? Yes, he died in 1528!


After the plunderings of wars of Religion in 1562, the church was restored in 1730.

Then the Revolution came: maybe you heard about the siege of Lyon by the Convention army in 1793?

Well, this army destroyed the nave’s vaults with cannonballs! The current crypt was re-raised in 1835.

There’s a treasure in our church: this fine statue of the Virgin Mary, made by Antoine Coysevox: oh, a pretty famous sculptor from Lyon! You can see his masterpieces in Paris (Louvre museum) or in castles of Chantilly, Versailles and Sceaux...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!