An invitation to immerge in sacred Art
Siege of the Helena bishopric, since 587 BC, Elne’s cathedral was blessed in 1069 under the double patronage of Saint Julia and Saint Eulalie. Episcopal city up to 1602, remained the bishop’s residence until transferred to St John’s Cathedral in Perpignan.
The nave is a Romanesque barrel vault on double arcs. Flanked on the side aisle by lateral chapels religiously furnished: the superb wooden painted Saint Michel altarpiece from the fourteenth century and the Roman bowl, state the collection of work of sacred art chosen for the materials nobility or the beauty of the workmanship. On the Northern aisle, you will be inspired by the Passion Cross, typically Catalan, theses crosses called ‘Improperes’, were used for the Easter processions. Different from the traditional crucifix, representing the different episodes of the Passion of Christ.
The cloister is one of the most remarkable monuments of the region. Made from blue veined white marble that comes from the Céret quarry, stating sculptors made with exceptional craftmanship. Wondering from the southern portico, one can follow the evolution of the stone carvers from the twelfth century through to the fourteenth century. In the oldest part, the South gallery is enlivened by a bestiary standing on small columns decorated with scrolls and floral designs. Do not miss the representation of the creation of Adam and Eve. The west and East galleries date from the thirteenth century. Marcel Durliat considered these galleries as ‘pastiche’ as if to underline the reproduction of the same capital as in the South gallery. In the North gallery of the cloister, Gothic appears with superb capitals with semantics based upon hand and arm gestures from different episodes of the Bible: Annunciation, Visitation, Birth of Christ, Escape from Egypt, Dormition of the Virgin…
Adjoining the cloister, in the chapter hall can be found the liturgic cabinet, a rare piece of furniture that stands out with its painted decorations. This same hall exposes an evolutionary timescale in the means of a giant mural frieze, displaying the longevity of this town that runs for over 2000 years.
Thanks to archeology, a small museum dating back to Antiguity, has been discovered allowing us to show the everyday life of mankind where one can see the influence of a cross border influence.