Notre-Dame and Saint-Véran Cathedral is a Romanesque monument located in Cavaillon in the Luberon Regional Nature Park. Discover this surprising historical monument.
A bishopric since the early Middle Ages, Cavaillon has a very fine cathedral complex of which the Cathedral, the Chapter and the Romanesque cloister remain. The original cathedral building dates from the end of the 11th century and was enlarged in the following century.
Located in the heart of the old town, the Notre-Dame and Saint-Véran cathedral dates from the end of the 11th century, was heightened in the 12th century and enlarged between the 16th and 18th centuries by the addition of side chapels.
Its cloister, a haven of peace and freshness, originally located between the cathedral church and the canons' church - which has now disappeared - was built in the early 13th century.
The interior is decorated with gilded woodwork from the 17th century, wall paintings from the 19th century and, in the side chapels, numerous paintings, notably by the most remarkable artists of the time: Daret, Nicolas and Pierre Mignard, Parrocel, Grangier....
History of Notre-Dame and Saint-Véran
At first glance, the Cathedral of Notre Dame and Saint Véran appears as a complex complex complex. This is the result of a multi-stage construction. The first step was the construction of a bishopric at the end of the 4th century. Later, in 1251, a new monument was consecrated by Pope Innocent IV.
The Pope dedicates the new cathedral to St Veran. The building was enlarged and embellished in the 12th century, with the current dimensions of the nave and the choir. Later, until the 15th century, chapels were added.
In the past the cathedral consisted of two churches. On one side there was the cathedral church known as the bishop, and on the south side was the church of the canons. The two churches were joined by a very nice small cloister.
But the church of the canons, known as St Peter's, was destroyed in the 18th century. Of this church there are only three archways left, which can be seen in the back of the courtyard of the kindergarten.
The octagonal bell tower of the cathedral, Romanesque style, was built in the 15th century. Thanks to its high position, it is a real landmark in the city. It has beautiful columns with carved capitals. This bell tower is supported inside by the cathedral choir.
On the left, below, under the bell tower, you can see a carved frieze. She runs under the cornice, along the nave. It consists in its entirety of acanth leaves. This motif was copied directly from the decor of the Roman Arch, which was adjacent to the cathedral until the 19th century.
On the far left of the bell tower, opposite, there is a carved sundial dating from 1764. It is a representation of Time, in the guise of an old man. This old man holds an hourglass in his right hand. He gives us a piece of advice, which can be read here in Latin. This phrase is actually a pun, “Hora Ne Te Fallat Ora”. In French, it is also translated by a play of words: “Pray, before I'm surprised” implied by your death.
This cathedral really deserves a visit, for its pleasant Romanesque cloister but also for its exceptional collection of paintings by Mignard, its chapels and choir decorated with gilded wood, its organ... Leaflets detailing the visit are at your disposal inside and the person in charge of monitoring the place will be happy to you. tell the story of this cathedral in detail.
History of Saint Véran, Bishop of Cavaillon
Let us return in a few words to the history of Saint Véran, bishop of Cavaillon in the 6th century, to whom this cathedral is dedicated and which is repeatedly represented on walls, pulpit and paintings. A chapel is entirely dedicated to him.
Saint Veran is traditionally depicted either as a pilgrim or as a bishop with a dragon at his feet. The story tells that Saint Véran captured a dragon who terrorized the inhabitants of Fontaine de Vaucluse, a village about ten kilometers from Cavaillon.
It is said that Saint Veran then domesticated this dragon, and imprisoned it in the Alps. Beyond the legend, this dragon is loaded with a heavy symbol. His capture represents the victory of Christianity over medial polytheist beliefs. In the fourth century, the populations of the Vaucluse were still very little evangelized.
A painting by Pierre Mignard dating back to 1657 traces this legendary episode. It is exhibited in the chapel dedicated to Saint Véran.
From the small square where you are located, look on your left, the landscape offered by the hill and the chapel of Saint James.
Then you turn right along the cathedral, then you stop at Place de l "Abée Béranger.
From this square you can see the apse of the cathedral. It is recognized by its pentagonal shape. It is decorated with arches and supported by small columns. The ensemble rests on capitals with a very studied decoration, where we see a recurring pattern on buildings of Cavaillon, that of the leaf of acanth.
In the central arcade of the apse, you can see a Romanesque window, very decorated. This window had been closed in 1643 by paintings decorating the interior of the choir.
To the left of the apse is the cathedral tower. It is a very high square tower finished with a clock. The bell we see bears the date of 1496, which tells us that it is one of the oldest in the department. It still rings the hour today.
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