The Saint-Pierre de Lisieux Cathedral impresses with its architecture and its history: it is one of the jewels of Norman Gothic art, and reminds us that Lisieux was the seat of a bishopric until 1790.

Virtual tour of Saint-Pierre de Lisieux Cathedral

History of the Cathedral

It is to Bishop Arnoult, friend of King Louis VI and advisor to the Duke of Normandy, that we owe the construction of the current Cathedral. He undertook it from 1149, on his return from the second crusade where he had accompanied the King of France.

The Cathedral was partially destroyed by fire in 1126; the north tower collapsed in 1554; in 1793, the bells went to the foundry and the cathedral became the seat of revolutionary festivals. Returned to worship in 1802, it was spared, like the whole of the former episcopal palace (the current courthouse) during the bombings of 1944.

Let us note in passing, that the episcopal see of Lisieux was occupied, from 1432 to 1442, by Monsignor Pierre Cauchon, collaborator of the English occupiers; the previous year, he had had Joan of Arc condemned to be burnt alive as a heretic.

Saint Teresa and the Cathedral

But it is for another reason that it interests the pilgrim of Lisieux: it is the place where Thérèse participated most in the life of the local Church during her youth. It is, in fact, to the Cathedral that, for more than ten years, Thérèse went, every Sunday and often during the week, with her father and her sisters, to participate in the Eucharist. In the southern ambulatory, a marble plaque marks the site where Thérèse attended the Sunday High Mass.

Plaque cathédrale Thérèse

During the week, it was in the apse chapel, built by Pierre Cauchon that she attended mass. In the north ambulatory, near the gate, is the chapel where Father Ducellier, then vicar, heard Thérèse's first confession.

Chapel of the Virgin

The apse chapel of the church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. It was built at the instigation of Pierre Cauchon, bishop of Lisieux from 1432, but best known for having, the previous year, presided over the tribunal which condemned Joan of Arc in Rouen. When he died in 1442, he was buried in this chapel.
In the time of Thérèse, and still today, the chapel of the Virgin is the place of the celebration of masses during the week. Thérèse and her family often attend.

In 1887, Thérèse, 14, went to this chapel in particular to pray for the conversion of the criminal Pranzini.

The bas-relief to the left of the altar may have helped her in her approach: it represents Jesus on the cross, surrounded by two bandits crucified at the same time as Him. Saint Luke writes in his Gospel that to the thief who recognizes Him, Jesus said: "today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).

The purpose of Thérèse's prayer is not to soften the heart of God, which she already knows full of love and mercy, but to make that of the condemned open to this mercy:
"I told the Good Lord that I was quite sure that He would forgive poor unhappy Pranzini, that I would believe him even if he did not confess and gave no sign of repentance, so much did I trust in mercy infinite number of Jesus, but that I only asked him for "a sign" of repentance for my simple consolation… ". Pranzini, before stretching his neck to the knife of the guillotine, kisses the Cross of Christ. “I had obtained 'the sign' asked […] What an ineffably sweet answer!… Ah! since this unique grace, my desire to save souls grows every day ”.


Open every day from 9 a.m. to 18:45 p.m.

Masses: Week - 18 p.m. / Sunday - 10:30 a.m.

Lisieux parish website



Cathédrale Saint Pierre