Notre-Dame Des Miracles Cathedral - Interior - Saint-OmerNotre-Dame Des Miracles Cathedral - Interior - Saint-Omer
©Interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Miracles - Saint-Omer|Jessy Hochart - Tourisme en Pays de Saint-Omer

Saint-Omer Cathedral

It’s one of the most visible and emblematic monuments in the town of Saint-Omer, the cathedral Notre-Dame-des-Miracles, from its full name, stands out from afar at 50 meters high. A rare example in France of Northern Gothic architecture, it also contains many treasures within. In fact, it’s the most visited monument in the Saint-Omer region.

A historical epic

The origins of the cathedral are steeped in mystery and myth, and difficult to verify. We have to go back to the 7th century A.D. to understand the origins of the building. At that time, in the kingdom of the Franks, northern France was still largely unchristianized and had difficulty submitting to the Merovingian kings.

King Dagobert sent several bishops to evangelize the local population around 630 AD. Among them was a certain Omer, a monk from the Cotentin town of Luxeuil, who received the northernmost bishopric in Gaul, that of Thérouanne. He decides to dedicate a church to the Virgin Mary on the heights of the Sithiu hill (today’s Sithieu site). Joined bythree of his companions, Momelin, Ebertram and Bertin, Omer also helped found a monastery in 662 shortly before his death on the banks of the Aa and entrusted it to Bertin, who would become its abbot. He will be buried in the small church at the top of the town. Soon, it took the name Saint-Omer and the monastery, Saint-Bertin.

As time went by, the church of Saint-Omer became a collegiate church, becoming an important intellectual center and owning relices. With the disappearance of Thérouanne Cathedral, it will become a cathedral by housing a bishopric and will be a true Catholic bastion in the face of the emergence of Protestants from the Netherlands.

A flamboyant Gothic style

The building of the monument began in 1052 with the presence and sanctification of the relics of Saint-Omer with a Romanesque style, of which only one of the north transept chapels remains today.

It wasn’t until an unfortunate event that the cathedral resembled what it looks like today. A disaster seriously damaged the Romanesque collegiate church at the end of the 12th century. It was therefore decided to rebuild the monument in the Gothic style, highlighting the different styles. The work lasted some 300 years. The cathedral thus became one of the last witnesses to the Gothic style of the northern provinces in the 13th century.

Guided tours to discover treasures and unravel certain mysteries

Notre-Dame Cathedral can now be revealed during guided tours organized by the Pays d’Art et d’Histoire from May to September.

It’s also a venue for events as concerts are played there regularly.