Saint Siffrein Cathedral, named after the Bishop, patron of Carpentras in the 7th century, is a beautiful example of southern Gothic architecture, characterized by unified space and strong wall space. It is the biggest church in the Dioceses: 58 meters long, 42-meter long nave with six ribbed bays. The cathedral was built on top of two previous churches, and vestiges of the 13th century Romanesque church can be seen on the northern side of the apse. Construction of the present cathedral took over a century (1405-1531).
The decoration inside the cathedral testifies to the great artistic fervor during the papal presence in the Comtat Venaissin. Painted panels of the Crowning of the Virgin, 15th century stained glass windows, precious marble Genoan altarpieces, gilded wood sculptures by the Bernus family, outstanding wrought iron work by the Mille family, paintings signed by G.E. Grève, N. Mignard, E. Parrocel and Carpentras artist J.S. Duplessis. See for yourself as you visit the side chapels.
The Saint Mors
According to ancient sources in the Palatine Chapel in Constantinople, the Holy Bit, which belonged to Emperor Constantine, was made by Saint Helen from one of the nails from Christ’s Passion. The Holy Bit has been the coat of arms of the Bishops of Carpentras since 1226, and the emblem of the city of Carpentras since 1260. The reliquary is visible in its 15th century oratory.
As you leave the Cathedral, see the southern door, Notre Dame door, also referred to as the “Jewish door”, for converted Jews entered through this entrance. The door is richly decorated flamboyant Gothic, directed by Blaise Lécuyer, architect and sculptor from Geneva. Above the heraldry from the former Chapter is the “Rat Ball”, which symbolizes the wear of passing time, eating away at the world.
The Cathedral Treasure displays belongings of the former bishops, gold work, sculpture and historically registered liturgical vestments.