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History of the Cathedral


During the Middle Age, the cities of Metz, Toul and Verdun, subject to the authority of their prince-bishop, became independent from the Duchy of Lorraine, which therefore had no more episcopal seat in its territory; as its capital, Nancy, then depended on the bishopric of Toul (30 km away from Nancy). When Lorraine came under the supervision of the French Kingdom from 1552, the dukes of Lorraine tried to get a bishopric in Nancy. After many efforts, Duke Charles III obtained from Pope Clement VIII, by a papal bull issued March 15th, 1602, to raise its capital to the rank of primatial see, dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunciation and with the relics of Saint Sigisbert - King of Austrasia during the 7th century - which remained at that time in the Saint-Martin-lès-Metz abbey.

Eglise1Pending the construction of the present Cathedral, a provisional church was erected on the main square of the Ville Neuve ("New Town"), on the site currently occupied by the Saint-Sébastien Church. A second provisional church was built in the current area of the Cathedral (between the "rue des Chanoines" and "rue Montesquieu") as the area around the first provisional church was becoming narrow to accommodate canons.
 Because of the Thirty Years War, construction of the present Cathedral only started in 1703 under the reign of Duke Leopold and was continued by his successor and last Duke of Lorraine, King Stanislas.

The first plans were drawn in 1700 by Giovanni Betto and the own brother of the Duke, Francis, laid the first stone. From 1709 to 1715 the construction work was interrupted. Betto received severe criticism from the great French architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart who advocated to balance the volumes by establishing a lantern-shape dome ("dôme à lanternon") in the transept. This did not prevent Betto to supervise the construction until he eventually died in 1722. Germain Boffrand succeeded him and finished work without extravagance (among other things, without the dome); we owe him the design of the lantern-shaped (1729) and the one of the choir stalls.

On November 1st, 1742 the first mass was celebrated in the Primatiale while the interiors work was yet not over.

CeremonyIn 1777, Nancy received the title of Primatial Cathedral during the transfer of the bishopric from Toul to Nancy. The diocese of Saint-Dié, also called the “Fourth Bishopric” was also created that exact same year.

The French Revolution transformed the Cathedral into a “temple to the goddess of Reason”, the sanctuary was desecrated, and the facade sculptures were destroyed.

The catholic service was finally restored, and the Cathedral was restored. On this occasion, the statues of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Gabriel on the facade, were replaced by those of Saint Mansuy and Saint Sigisbert distributed in two alcoves.

The Cathedral received from Pope Pius IX, in 1867, the title of Basilica, while Charles-Martial Lavigerie, Bishop of Nancy, had just been appointed archbishop of Algiers.


icone photo galerie Cathedral