Cathédrale St-Lazare Exterior Apse, Crossing Tower and South Arm of the Transept Autun Cathedral
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
St-Lazare was originally built to accommodate pilgrims coming to Autun to venerate the relics of St. Lazarus of Bethany, known from the Gospels as the brother of Mary Magdalene and Martha, and beloved friend of the Lord, who raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44). Relics of the saint had been acquired from Marseille around the year 970 and housed in St-Nazaire, then Autun's cathedral church. Because of the shrine's popularity, Étienne Bâgé, bishop of Autun at the time, launched a project to create a larger church, dedicated to the saint. St-Lazare was consecrated in 1130 by Pope Innocent II. The saint's relics were translated to the new church in 1146, though his tomb in the choir was not built until 1170-1180 (destroyed 1766). In 1195, St-Lazare became the cathedral church for the diocese of Autun. Constructed between 1120 and the end of the 12th C., the architecture of St-Lazare was inspired by Cluniac churches, particularly Paray-le-Monial, though with a simpler Latin cross plan. Though many of its Romanesque features remain, St-Lazare has undergone a number of reconstructions that give its exterior a Gothic look. This image of St-Lazare's chevet shows Gothic features that were part of the reconstruction required after the church's Romanesque bell tower was struck by lightning (ca. 1469), toppled and set off a great fire that severely damaged the choir area. The tall spire and the upper portion of the choir with its sturdy buttresses are part of the 15th C. (Flamboyant Gothic) rebuilding effort. Nevertheless, builders adhered to the original ground plan, allowing us to see elements of the simplified Autun version of the Cluniac design. Perhaps most striking are elements Saint-Lazare lacks. Although it was planned specifically to be a pilgrimage center, it was created without ambulatory or radiating chapels (the usual format to allow for placement of relics and veneration by large groups of people). Instead, the building terminates with a main semi-circular apse flanked by a small apse on either side. ca. August 1981
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