1220 – 2020: “The Good Lord’s Lantern” – 800 years of light
God’s lantern has been shining on Metz for 800 years!
The project to build the cathedral as we know it began in 1220 under the impetus of bishop Conrad de Scharfenberg. This led to the publication of a papal bull on 2 December 1220: in it, Pope Honorius III authorised the bishop of Metz to raise funds for ten years for work requiring “heavy expenditure”.
The monument in fact encompasses two buildings: the cathedral and the Collegiate Notre-Dame-la-Ronde, built around 1186 and redesigned to be inserted inside the whole. The two towers of the cathedral mark the junction between these two churches. The portal of the Virgin, the current entrance to the cathedral, was one of the portals of Notre-Dame-la-Ronde. Conrad de Scharfenberg chose to build the cathedral in the Gothic style, which was experiencing a boom at the time in France and Europe since its appearance a century earlier. Jaumont stone, mined in the vicinity of Metz, was used for the entire monument, giving it its characteristic golden glow.
The imposing cathedral was not completed until three centuries later, in 1552, due to financial and political difficulties that led to an interruption in work on the site.
Metz Cathedral is an exceptional building and represents the “culmination of Gothic art”, according to one of its many architects, Pierre Perrat. Respecting the principles of Gothic architecture, its spire and its 41 metres in height give it the appearance of soaring skywards. It is the tallest cathedral in France, along with the cathedral in Amiens.
Nicknamed the “the Good Lord’s Lantern”, Metz Cathedral is characterised by approximately 6,500 m² of stained glass, which makes it one of the most glazed buildings in the Christian world. In France, Chartres Cathedral, which is renowned for its stained glass windows, only counts 2,600 m². Metz Cathedral contains glass from every era, from the thirteenth century to the twentieth century. We can admire the works of famous artisan glaziers like Hermann de Münster (14th century), who created the west window, Théobald de Lixheim (16th century) and Valentin Bousch (16th century), considered to be the greatest glass painter of the Lorraine Renaissance. After the Second World War, many of the cathedral’s stained glass windows were destroyed and several artists were called upon to decorate the new stained glass windows. Jacques Villon, Marc Chagall and Roger Bissière were all involved and their work added a contemporary touch to the building.
If you pay a visit to the crypt of the building, you can observe the final treasures of the cathedral. Among them, it would be hard to miss the Graoully, a fantastic beast that is closely linked to the history of Christianity in Metz.
To learn more about Metz Cathedral:
With more than 700,000 visitors each year, it is the most visited building in the Grand Est region and the flagship for cultural events in Metz and the region. For Metz, it is a symbol that is both spiritual and political, of architecture and heritage, of land and identity.
That is why a large number of partners are actively involved in this exceptional project to celebrate this anniversary with force and talent: the Préfecture of the Moselle and the DRAC Grand Est, the diocese of Metz, the City of Metz, Metz Métropole and the Inspire Metz agency, the Département of the Moselle and Moselle Attractivité and the Grand Est region, surrounded in particular by the Cité musicale-Metz, the Centre Pompidou-Metz, the Musée de la Cour d’Or, the CIAV in Meisenthal and many other partners and patrons.
15 months of celebrations
8 December 2019 – 8 December 2020: the Jubilee Year of the Diocese of Metz
For the past eight hundred years, from generation to generation, Catholics from Moselle have been congregating in the cathedral around their bishop.
To celebrate this anniversary, from 8 December 2019 to 8 December 2020, the diocese of Metz is holding a jubilee year with the theme: “Disciples of Christ, missionaries of his light” with a number of highlights. The major liturgical feasts will be celebrated and there will be pilgrimages organised for specific groups, without forgetting the various cultural events (exhibitions, concerts, conferences, performances).
2019 – 2020: major works and two commissions from the State, the owner of the building
2020 will see the arrival of two major public commissions by the State, one for a contemporary stained-glass window and one for the interior signposting. This will be a unique opportunity to discover or rediscover this exceptional building, with many original events on offer.
November 2019 – February 2021: + than 200 public events on offer with partners from Metz
Over 15 months, a wide and varied programme of public events will bring to life the major historical and artistic chapters in the building’s lifetime, promoting the heritage of our land – sacred music and the art of glass in particular.
Three sequences will set the pace for these fifteen months of unifying commemorations:
- November 2019 – April 2020: Le temps des bâtisseurs (The Builders), with a special winter videomapping projected onto the cathedral during the Noëls de Moselle, the Cité musicale-Metz events dedicated to sacred music, and the unveiling of the collectable objects created for this anniversary.
- May 2020 – September 2020: Le temps des artistes (The Artists), with a themed visitor itinerary dedicated to stained glass throughout the city, digital events and the European Heritage Days.
- October 2020 – February 2021: Le temps des lumières, (The Lights) with the major exhibition Chagall: le passeur de lumière at Centre Pompidou-Metz, exhibitions about the art of glass and the concert Apocalypsis, a creation by Edith Canat de Chizy at the Cité musicale-Metz.
The 800th anniversary celebrations of Metz Cathedral are an event with the label 60 years of the Ministry of Culture.
Many of the works presented during the celebrations will be original creations by regional and international artists inspired by the cathedral of Saint Etienne.