Saint Etienne - The Bourges Cathedral
Our trip down memory lane of the city of Bourges would not be complete without a pause and a reflection upon the Cathedral.
Here we were, basically, “somewhere in France,” when it was announced that we would make a lunch stop in the town of Bourges. Good news! Off the bus for a while and out and about to look around, little knowing what delights awaited.
Nothing seemed remarkable about the little narrow streets our driver was navigating until he made that turn. There, right before our eyes was the most beautiful cathedral I had ever seen, picture perfect in every way!
The Cathedral of Bourges is dedicated to Saint Etienne, (Stephen), the first Christian martyr. The cathedral was added to the list of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1992. It is known that the structure was a replacement for an earlier Romanesque style church that apparently the region out grew. In 1195 it is recorded that a church, in the new Gothic style was to begin construction on the foundations of the old. The date makes it a contemporary construction with both Chartres and Notre Dame in Paris some 250 km to the north. Taking nearly 3 years to build, the Cathedral was consecrated in 1324, a masterpiece of construction!
I was in awe for those old cathedrals speak to the very depths of my soul. The high ceilings, kept one looking up as if into the heavens. The soft light spilled in the building creating a dazzling effect on the stained glass windows and on the small altars that lined the sides of the main aisle.
So massive in fact was the structure that at one point I simply laid down on the floor to take a photo straight up to minimize the distortion of the angle. After lunch, Patrick and I went back to the church. Now the church was empty, the silence of light and stone punctuated the sacred space with the sense of the holy.
I was sure Notre Dame in Paris would be so much grander and that I would get better pictures there of a real "Gothic Cathedral." In one sense it was, but in reality it was crowded, noisy, and dank. Here in Bourges, something inside of me held the invitation to linger, to look again, to take my time. My photos of the cathedral in Bourges are among my favorite souvenirs of our trip.