The massive cathedral of Lille was built over 150 years. Today, the imposing church shines as a monumental blend of neo-Gothic and modern.
Lille's mighty cathedral is one of our top 10 sights of Lille and one of our top 10 most beautiful churches in France. The distinctive church is the metropolitan see and seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishopric of Lille.
Creation of Lille Cathedral
The history of the extraordinary cathedral of Lille began with the statue of the Virgin Mary "Notre Dame de la Treille". The wooden image of Our Lady of Treille shows the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus and originally came from the 12th or 13th century. At that time she was already venerated as a miracle worker in the church of Saint-Pierre and was appointed patron saint of the city of Lille in 1634.
In the course of the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century, the church of Saint-Pierre was completely destroyed. A monk managed to save the figure and place it in the church of Sainte-Cathérine, where it was initially forgotten.
It was only with the Catholic movement "Renouveau catholique" that the veneration of Notre Dame de la Treille was resumed in the early 19th century. Soon the idea arose to consecrate a church to the patron saint of the city. The foundation stone for Lille Cathedral was laid on 1 July 1854.
However, due to the enormous size of the cathedral, which was planned by the architect Charles Leroy, the sacred building remained unfinished for a long time. Twenty years after the foundation stone was laid, in 1874, the church was consecrated and the statue of Mary was solemnly given its place in the choir of the church.
To celebrate the consecration, the church bells were donated, whereupon a three-storey bell tower had to be completed in no time at all, which has not been extended further to this day. In the 20th century, several additions were completed, including a total of eight side chapels.
The last changes were made in 1999, 8 years before the modern west wall was put up, making the monumental cathedral of Lille unmistakable.
The sunlight that falls through the coloured leaded glass windows envelops the altars and sculptures in the high hall church with a mystical aura.
The sight of the enormous window rosette on the west façade by Ladislas Kijno is particularly spectacular. Also worth a second look is the ornate portal by the sculptor Jeanclos.
The figure of the town's patron saint is no longer the original, however, because the statue of the Virgin Mary from the Middle Ages was stolen in 1959.
Today's image of grace is a replica created by Marie Madeleine Weerts.