The arrival of Gothic architecture in Normandy
By the middle of the 11th century, the Romanesque cathedral was in a sorry state. It was decided to build a new cathedral on the site of the old one. Construction was started in 1150 by Arnoult, Bishop of Lisieux. Close to the kings of France and England, this prelate brought in builders who were up to date with the new techniques being used in the Ile-de-France region. For the first time in Normandy, the master mason, ancestor of the architect, introduced buttresses to support the vaults, taking inspiration from the Basilica of Saint-Denis and Notre-Dame-de-Paris.
A harmonic and harmonious façade
The façade of the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre is the most recent part of the building. Completed in 1250, it features a so-called “harmonic” façade: the three portals give an insight into the interior division of the church with its central nave and aisles.
Bishop Pierre Cauchon and the Chapel of the Virgin
Bishop Pierre Cauchon, known to have been the inquisitor at the trial of Joan of Arc and to have condemned her to the stake in 1431, became Bishop of Lisieux from 1432 to 1442. During this period, he had the cathedral’s axial chapel raised to house his tomb. The tomb has now disappeared but his body still lies under the paving. The Chapel of the Virgin is a beautiful example of flamboyant Gothic architecture. The coats of arms of the chapter and of Pierre Cauchon appear on the keystones.
Parish Church of Thérèse Martin
Before she became a saint, Thérèse Martin went to mass with her family at the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre in Lisieux. It was her local church. It was in the axial chapel that she decided to become a nun. Today, there is a chapel in the choir dedicated to her.