In 750, Archbishop Tilpin installed a community of Benedictine monks to guide pilgrims to the relics of Saint Remi. Thus began a monastic life that lasted a thousand years. Different successive abbots undertook many expansions and enrichment works which made the present Basilica of Saint-Remi gradually take shape. Of these changes over several centuries, the building retained various influences, from Romanesque to Renaissance through the Gothic movement. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saint-Remi Basilica is a collection of history and art which should not be missed. The 11th century Romanesque nave was lengthened by two transepts at the end of the 12th century to render it accessible to a greater number of pilgrims. At the same time, the facade was reconstructed, while a choir ambulatory and radiating chapels were created. While the Gothic style is apparent in these transformations, they in no way altered the homogeneity and serenity of the church. It contains Saint Remi's tomb, a collection of 12th century stained-glass windows and a Cattiaux grand organ, inaugurated in the year 2000. Saint-Remi was a great fortified monastery going back the 4th and 5th-centuries that held the Saint-Ampoule – with the unction used in the coronations of the Kings of France and the burial place of Saint-Remi. The old galleried nave with its wooden roof is thought to resemble that of many similar great churches in the North including, for example, Jumièges. The chevet figures importantly in the story of early gothic architecture. The delicacy of the slender columns refers to Suger's chevet at Saint Denis.
Charles X (1757–1836) ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1824 until 1830. A younger brother to Kings Louis XVI and Louis XVIII, he supported the latter in exile and eventually succeeded him. On May 29, 1825, King Charles X was anointed at the Cathedral of Reims, the traditional site of consecration of French kings. It had been unused since 1775, as Louis XVIII had foregone the ceremony to avoid controversy. Charles' decision to be crowned, in contrast to his predecessor, Louis XVIII, proved unpopular with the French public. His rule of almost six years came to an abrupt end in 1830 due to the July Revolution, which ignored his attempts to keep the crown in the senior branch of the House of Bourbon and instead elected Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans as King of the French. Once again exiled, Charles died in Gorizia, Austria. His successor, Louis Phillipe, opted not to have a coronation. The French government broke up and sold off most of the French Crown Jewels after 1875, in hopes of avoiding any further royalist agitation against the newly restored republic.
Because the Kings of France were crowned at Reims, the Archbishop of Riems was one of the most powerful men in France. The cathedral had all the usual Objects of Catholic worship but because the church is so old, powerful and wealthy, the objects are similarly ancient and precious. The royal treasury's most remarkable objects are Charlemagne's talisman (9th century) and Saint Remi's chalice (12th century). The Sainte-Ampoule, or “holy flask”, contains the holy oil with which new kings were anointed during the coronation ceremony. In addition the Palace of Tau contained all of the coronation regalia, most of which were either taken to Paris or melted down during the French Revolution. Fortunately many pieces were hidden and saved both during the Revolution and the two World Wars. The treasure, which is very rich in precious reliquaries, chalices, and other pieces of goldsmith's work, was saved from the fire of September 19, 1914, by the Curé of the Cathedral and one of his abbés. After being temporarily placed in the house of the Cardinal, it was evacuated in 1915, at the order of the Historical Monuments Department. The Coronation items from Charles X are also located here.
The Palace of Tau in Reims, France, was the palace of the Archbishop of Reims. It is located next to Notre-Dame de Riems Cathedral in Reims. It is associated with the Kings of France, whose coronations were held in the nearby cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims. A large Gallo-Roman villa originally occupied the site of the palace in the 6th and 7th centuries, and the villa later became a Carolingian palace. The first documented use of the name Tau dates to 1131, and derives from the plan of the building, which resembles the letter Τ (tau, in the Greek alphabet). Most of the early building has disappeared: the oldest part remaining is the chapel, from 1207. The building was largely rebuilt in Gothic style between 1498 and 1509, and modified to its present Baroque appearance between 1671 and 1710 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte. It was damaged by a fire on 19 September 1914, and not repaired until after the Second World War. The Palace was the residence of the Kings of France before their coronations in Notre-Dame de Reims. The King was dressed for the coronation at the palace before proceeding to the cathedral; afterwards, a banquet was held at the palace. The first recorded coronation banquet was held at the palace in 990, and the most recent in 1825.
I have previously written about the exterior of Nore Dame de Reims cathedral. This post takes us through the interior. As you walk through the central portal of the western facade you can look back and see the beautiful stained glass above the portal. Of great importance in the early days of Christianity in Gaul, Reims had a number of archbishops who were major figures in the Roman Catholic Church, canonized after their death. This was the case for the most famous among them, Rémi (440-533) the archbishop who baptized Clovis and instituted the Holy Anointing of Kings. The ceremony was fully established in the 12th century, and after that time almost all French sovereigns were consecrated at Reims. For the Royal Anointing, which took place in the town's cathedral, the Ampulla containing the Chrism, or holy oil, was brought from the Abbey of Saint-Rémi. Rémi, who died in 533, was buried in St Christopher's chapel, which was replaced in the 11th-12th centuries by a Benedictine abbey church. The current cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. The cathedral was rebuilt in the13th-14th century.
We visited Reims last summer to visit the cathedral and to just look around. Unfortunately I never got around to posting the pictures so I thought I would do it now. Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims) is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. The outstanding handling of new architectural techniques in the 13th century, and the harmonious marriage of sculptural decoration with architecture, has made Notre-Dame in Reims one of the masterpieces of Gothic art. The former abbey still has its beautiful 9th-century nave, in which lie the remains of Archbishop St Rémi (440–533), who instituted the Holy Anointing of the kings of France. The former archiepiscopal palace known as the Tau Palace, which played an important role in religious ceremonies, was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century.