Sunday, June 8, 2014

Notre Dame Cathedral, Bayeux, France

Notre Dame Cathedral in Bayeux, France, dates back to the Roman times, but the currently standing cathedral was built in the 13th century. It is an inspiring work of Norman Gothic architecture, which can be seen from the outside as well as the inside.

The rear of the building (or east side) is the most visible and most ornate. The famous flying buttresses of the Gothic area are easily visible and are decorated with statues!

Eastern end of Notre Dame Cathedral in Bayeux

Flying buttresses with statues

The walls have a wide assortment of gargoyles, some low enough almost to be reached by a tall person.

Gargoyle up close

Another scary guy

The Dean's Portal on the south transept includes a graphic depiction of Saint Thomas Becket's life and martyrdom. Sadly, time has worn away much detail, but the Channel crossing in the second line and the martyrdom at the end of the third are still quite clear and identifiable.

Dean's Portal

Becket's life and martyrdom right above the door

Inside is just as glorious, and includes more on Becket. The nave is light and airy.

Nave

The pulpit dates from 1786 by sculptor Jean-Louis Margin. The neo-classical stage is surmounted by a fantastic Baroque sounding board depicting a cloud with a globe and a religious figure bearing a cross on top.

Pulpit

Pulpit top with ornate wall behind

The main altar leads into the choir area. The ceiling is decorated with paintings of various saints and bishops of Bayeux.

Main altar

Above the main altar

The choir ceiling

Local bishops!

The choir stalls date from the 1500s and have the same joyful exuberance of the rest of the church.

Choir stalls

Surrounding the choir are several chapels, including one devoted to St. Michael the Archangel and another containing a relic of St. Therese of Lisieux.

St. Michael in action!

St. Therese's relic

St. Peter had a chapel too!

The south transept has a mural depicting rather explicitly Thomas Becket's martyrdom at Canterbury Cathedral.

Becket's martyrdom over a crucifixion scene and scenes from St. Nicholas's life

Back in the nave is a chapel dedicated to St. Philomena and another chapel that has an interesting but unidentified painting in it.

St. Philomena chapel

A bishop and a pregnant lady?

The Romanesque crypt is still accessible and contains some 15th century paintings on the columns designed to evoke the ancient times of the church.

Angel in the crypt

The stained glass in the cathedral is great as well, with many evocative windows.

Sample of the stained glass

Of course, Bayeux is more famous for the Tapestry, which will be the next post!

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