Life of Saint Front
According to the five accounts of the « Vie de Saint Front », Front lived in the fourth century. He was sent by Saint Pierre, whose pastoral staff he received, according to the bas-relief of the gable of the facade of the cathedral preserved in the Museum of Art and Archeology of Perigord. Saint Front has come to evangelize the Perigord and the ancient city of Vesunna in particular. He settled in a cave, near the Roman city to live his hermit life. Considered to be the first bishop of Perigueux, he was credited with the resurrection of children who had drowned in the Garonne at Toulouse, others in the Dronne at Brantôme. Buried near the hermitage, the saint’s body is sheltered by the monastery of Puy Saint-Front.
The monastery of Puy Saint-Front
Only part of the church and part of the Romanesque cloister on the south side remain of the monastery of Puy Saint-Front. It was partially rebuilt in the Gothic period. In spite of the fire of 1120 which destroyed the religious establishment, the monastic life is maintained with the formation of a chapter of canons around the abbot, who is also the bishop. They welcome the pilgrims who came to venerate the saint’s relics. Deposited in a reliquary of stone carved at the end of the 11th century, the whole is looted in the 16th century. Although the cathedral is very marked by the 19th century, it was listed in 1998 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by under the paths of Saint-Jacques. It marks an important passage on the way to Vézelay.
The restoration of the 19th
When Paul Abadie intervened on the monument in 1852, he tries to retain as much as possible the medieval elevations. Three years later, he advocated for the demolition of the north dome. It causes a domino effect on the other cupolas arranged in Greek cross. The diocesan architect completely demolished the building. Removed from the imperfections left by the master builders of the Middle Ages, the cathedral illustrates the thought of the restoration of the 19th century: recomposing, reinventing, perfecting. Saint-Front is even the model that Paul Abadie reproduces in the church of the Sacré-Coeur in Paris. His successor Louis Bruyerre, who proposes in 1884 a restoration of the steeple while respecting the constructions in place is considered too conservative by his peers.
The clearing of the chapter house
Like other cathedrals, Saint-Front is freed from the buildings that were joined to it at the end of the 19th century. Viollet-le-Duc advocates it as early as 1842 in a report for the ministry of worship. To the south of the cloister, the refectory, the kitchen and the abbey prisons are razed. Today it is the garden of Thouin. Built on the west wing of the abbey at the end of the 16th century, the bishopric was demolished at the same time. It was flanked by a tower of polygonal staircase whose base is still visible in the southwest corner of the cloister. The houses that leaned on the facade of the monument are also destroyed. The frieze which is replenished in the south wall of the « old church » adorned the porch of the cathedral. He passed under one of the dwellings.
The Cathedral of Saint-Front attracts the eye by its majesty and its size. It imposes itself on us by its immense steeple which dominates. The set of its bells and domes balances it wonderfully.
It is revealed from the docks and appropriates by accessing it by walking. Entry by the narthex is preferred. The wooden door is crossed, the nave is discovered in its spaciosity due to the height of the vaults and the depth of the paths. The choir keeps our attention with its magnificent enamel cross. The Way of the Cross by Jacques Emile Lafon and the three chandeliers are remarkable.