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The parish Church Saint Francois is a protestant church that can be found at the heart of Lausanne at the south end of Old Town. It’s one of the 2 medieval buildings in Lausanne, the other one is the cathedral.
The church was completed in 1272, only 14 years after the Franciscan monks settled in Lausanne to create a monastery and a church dedicated to Saint Francis. It was built in typical 13th century style according to what the Franciscan Synod of Narbonne was suggested for every church of the order.
The church was destroyed along with the wooden houses around because of the great fire in 1368 when only the choir survived. It was reconstructed some years later while the bell tower added in the beginning of 15th century and the rood loft replaced by the present pulpit in the beginning of 16th century. After the Reformation (1536) turned into the parish church of the lower city.
Don’t be afraid of the closed door, go closely and the automatic door will open just for you :) Don’t miss the beautiful stained glass in choir.
The square Saint Francois is pretty busy with numerous stores and cafes but also a hub spot for most local buses. The square surrounded by large office blocks but also the main Post Office. We crossed the street to take a picture of a large statue (pic 4) but also to check the view from the steps that lead downhill towards Ouchy (although we finally decided to take the metro)
- Religious Travel
Eglise Saint-Francois (I&V)
Church Saint Francois dominates the square of the same name. Located at lower end of Grand Pont, sharply between Gare centrale de Lausanne – Lausanne central railway station and Cathedrale Notre-Dame, with city bus station for several lines – the square is one of the most prominent places in the city. Together with the cathedral, the church is the only medieval religious building in Lausanne.
Here are some facts about Saint Francois church from the leaflet we picked in it: "Franciscan monks settled in Lausanne in the year 1258. Bishop Jean of Cossonay had summoned them from Besancon and Salins to found a new community. They were immediately granted a piece of land, upon which they built their convent and church. The exact dates of the construction of the church remain unknown, however we do know that the main work was finished around 1272. The church of Saint-Francois was built according to the rules set up at the Franciscan Synod of Narbonne, under the ruling of Saint Bonaventure, It is quite typical of the 13th century buildings of the mendicant orders who were so rapidly developing throughout the Western world during that period. […] Around 1368, a fire destroyed Lausanne, including the sanctuary of the Franciscan Friars. The vaulted choir survived, but not so the nave and its wooden roof. Reconstruction was done stepwise during the last third of the 14th century. […] The architect responsible for this reconstruction was Jean of Liege. […] In the beginning of the 15th century, a bell tower was added and in the late 15th or early 16th century the rood-loft was demolished and replaced by the present pulpit. In 1536, Reformation was established: it was in the church of Saint- Francois that Pierre Viret preached return to the Gospel. Shortly after, convents were abolished by the Reformation Act and Saint-Francois became the parish church of the low city. Today, it still is the center of that neighborhood's reformed parish. From the end of 19th century on, Saint-Francois was restored and consolidated several times. The disfiguring aisles added during the 17th and the 18th centuries were removed in 1930. […] The restoration carried out between 1990 and 1995 […] was aimed at respecting the passage of time, but above all at enhancing the painted decorative elements preserved inside the church of Saint-Francois. The choir vaults are decorated with white on beige 'false-joints' and those of the first bay have kept their 15th century arms. On the other vaults of the nave, one can admire the exceptional black and white decoration dating back to the beginning of the 17th century, as well as the adjoining walls coated in matching gray pointed with white. Thus, it is at the end of the 20th century that this sanctuary of Lausanne recovered its architectural unity."
The church has very unusual and spooky automatic door, but this should not stop anyone to enter it and see the interior, it should just prevent slightly disturbing (but later funny) experience. The door of Eglise Saint-Francois surprised VT member Sue, too – what a relief to share such a strange occurrence with somebody.
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Located on leafy Place St-Francois is the Eglise St-Francois. This church dates back to 1272, and was once the centre of a Franciscan monastery. The monastery was originally located against the old city walls.
It under went major renovations after much of the city was devastated by fire in 1368, and the impressive clock tower was added. When the reformation arrived in the mid-15th century, the monastery was no more, and a Protestant parish church rose in its place.
Plenty of changes have been made to the church over the years. If you go inside you can admire the restored frescoes on the ceiling. One surprising thing is that the main entrance to the church looks like the usual large wooden doors, but these have been made automatic, so they swing open as you approach - never seen that at a church before!
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St Francois Church
One of the city’s landmarks is located right at the heart of Lausanne. This church is weird combination of modern and old, most obvious as you step through the spiritually awakening automatic (!!) doors :-)
Bishop Jean de Cossonay invited the Franciscans to found a community in 1258. By 1272 they had completed their new church, which then stood at the centre of the monastic complex. The upper structure date back to 1370-1387 while the belfry was built around 1400.The only remnant of the friary has been renovated many times with the most recent completion in 1995.
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