A little history of Saint-Etienne cathedral in Cahors

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The cathedral - ©Clément Bucco-Lechat / CC-BY-SA The cathedral - ©Clément Bucco-Lechat / CC-BY-SA
Saint-Etienne cathedral in Cahors Cathedral

This Byzantine cathedral looks like a real fortress, don't you think? According to the legend, the first church was founded at the end of the 3th century. Dedicated to saint Etienne ("Stephen"), it was plundered by Théodebert in 574, when he besieged the city. Rebuilt in the 7th century by saint Didier, it was a poorly cathedral bishop Géraud III de Cardaillac found: so he decided of a reconstruction! When he left for Crusades in 1109, the building site was in progress; in 1119, the choir and the nave were almost done. Until the middle of the 12th century, the building site went one with the erection of the Romanesque portal.

Time flew... They restored the church at the end of the 13th and 14th centuries: the choir was about to collapse and vaults had fallen into disrepair. They rebuilt the apse and the façade and added lateral chapels on the nave. But the Hundred Years War threatened all the area, English troops besieged every cities. Cahors resisted until the treaty of Brétigny (1360) was signed: there, the city was handed over to the English... But that's not all! War of Religion created slaughters and wars between Catholics and Protestants.

Henri of Navarre's troops besieged the city and the cathedral in 1580: they destroyed furniture, marble altars, roofs... The siege lasted 3 days! But they didn't destroy the relic of the "holy Headdress", a linen which used to wrap Jesus' head, given by Charlemagne to the bishop of Cahors in the beginning of the 9th century...

Inside the cathedral, choir's paintings were created by pope Jean XXII, completed in 1324. Northern portal dates back to the 12th century, the Western façade to the 14th century. In the beginning of the 16th century, Antoine de Luzech raised the high Gothic style cloister.