St-Stephen’s cathedral of Sens, France
St-Stephen’s cathedral of Sens
Around 1130, Archbishop Henri Sanglier decided to replace the existing 10th century cathedral with a new, more imposing building wothy of the important Senon metropolis. At a time when Roman style constructions were erected everywhere, Henri Sanglier consulted an innovative architect who proposed a revolutionary concept of vaulting: the ribbed vault.
The wide cathedral of a simple and continuous volume consisting of a central nave and two side aisles, was born. By the end of the 13th century, the western front was completed. The building of the large flamboyant Gothic style transept took place between 1490 and 1517 under the direction of Martin Chambiges, a major Parisian architect.
As Victor Hugo wrote:” The cathedral of Sens is Art complicated with History.”
The stained glass windows: teaching of light
In the Cathedral, there are several original stained glass windows, which enable us to retrace the story of stained glass windows from the 12th to the 19th centuries.
The four oldest windows are located in the choir’s Northern ambulatory and compete in themes and quality with those of Chartres and Bourges: the Good Samaritan, St. Eustache, St. Thomas Becket, the Prodigal Son.
The transept windows, and more particularly the two rose windows of the Last Judgment (on the Southern side) and of the Heavenly Chorus (on the Northern side) make an exceptional scheme designed between 1500 and 1530, at the very end of the Middle Ages.
A place of interest!
If you look closely, you will notice a small stone head nestling high up between the small columns of the first Northern pillar on the left in the nave. This legendary feature “Jean du Cognot” is said to represent Pierre de Cugnières, a lawyer who was the advisor to Philippe de Valois and was at the heart of a conflict between the Archbishop and the King. To make fun of him, the canons had lit candles smashed on his stone head. The popular saying is that “the one who has not seen this, has not seen the cathedral …”
The great organ
The great organ of the cathedral, built at the back of the Western facade between 1722 and 1734, was completely restored in 1991. Its structure mostly allows playing 17th and 18th century classical music.
148 Rue des Déportés et de la Résistance
Phone: 03 86 65 06 57 Open from 8.30am to 6pm all year long, besides Sunday noons Source: tourisme-sens.com