Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 17, 2007
St. Maurice refuses to worship Roman gods and was slain
France honours this valiant saint in naming of buildings, children
St Maurice – September 22
By TED FITZGERALD
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
Angers Cathedral, home of a 13th Century stained glasswork of St. Julian is under restoration.
Since early Roman times, Angers has been the capital of the district of Anjou. It prospered during the reign of Henry Plantagenet who, although he resided mainly in the Angers area, ruled the large combined Anglo-Angevin Empire as English King Henry II.
From its elevated setting, visitors to Cathedrale Saint Maurice enjoy a panoramic vista from the west front down the broad steps of the Montee Saint-Maurice to the attractive fountain in the Promenade du Pont Ligny gardens. Beyond the broad, tranquil Riviere La Maine with its moored tour boats, the west bank city suburbs and churches extend for many kilometres.
The cathedral and its fa‡ade have undergone many modifications over the centuries, including recent restorative work on the stonework of the front and the two 12th century towers which left the fa‡ade shrouded in scaffolding. The square bases are topped by slender, 15th century ornamented steeples. A central, later tower features at its base, statues of some of the companions of St. Maurice beneath an inscribed prayer for peace.
Inside, the nave of the church is noted for its Angevin or Plantagenet vaulting, a transitional form between Romanesque and Gothic styles, built in 1149 and named for Henry, Plantagenet Count of Anjou.
The future English king is also remembered in a negative way in one of the magnificent stained glass windows in the chancel where the 1170 martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral by order of Henry is portrayed.
Many of the 89 bishops of the Angers Diocese are interred in their cathedral as are the last of the Angevin dukes.
A statue of Legionnaire Maurice dominates his chapel in the south transept above an altar displaying a bas-relief "POUR LA FOI" (for the faith) dedicated in 1985 to some 2,000 Catholics who were martyred in 1793-94 during the "Terror" in the Angers region, some being guillotined near the cathedral in Place du Ralliement.
Maurice is also remembered in his cathedral with stained glass windows in the nave and transepts and in one of the priceless tapestries that the building is noted for.
Today, Angers, with a metropolitan population exceeding 200,000, is noted for its university and its historic and lively old quarter.
The cathedral parish includes nearby Notre-Dame des Victoires Church. Between them, five Masses are celebrated daily and six on weekends.
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