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Church of St. Laurent of Aubenas, Ardèche Church of St. Laurent of Aubenas, ArdèchePhoto: Havang(nl) in the public domain

Approximately 80% of the French population is Roman Catholic (approx. 48 million), 4.5% predominantly Sunni Islamic (approx. 4 million) and there are also small minorities of Protestants (approx. 950,000), Jews (approx. 700,000; the largest Jewish community in Europe) and Armenian-Christians. Since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by Louis XIV, Catholicism has been the state religion.
Since the separation of church and state in 1905, the state has ceased to be involved in the Church. The Roman Catholic Church has eighteen provinces in France and a total of 95 dioceses. The Archbishop of Lyon is the head of the ecclesiastical provinces.

After St. Bartholomew's Day (1572), the power of Protestantism in France was broken. Protestant churches were not recognized until the law of 1802. The main Protestant denominations are: the Eglise Réformée de France, the Eglise de la Confession d'Augsburg d'Alsace et de Lorraine, the Egliseé catchélique luthérienne and the Église réformée d'Alsace et de Lorraine.
Since 1905 there has been a federation of Protestant churches consisting of Reformed, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists and free churches: the Fédération protestante de France .
Protestant theological faculties for the training of pastors are located in Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, Paris and Strasbourg; the last two are inter-confessional faculties. Despite the relatively small number, the influence of the Protestants in France is quite large.

The Abbatiale de Cruas is a Benedictine abbey church, which is rare due to the presence of a cloister gallery, an elevated part of the choir that the nave protrudes from the church, and through a Romanesque crypt from the mid-11th century. There is also a Byzantine mosaic floor, called 'Le paradis promis aux justes', from 1098.

Abbatiale de Cruas, ArdècheAbbatiale de Cruas, ArdèchePhoto: Wayne 77 CC 4.0 International no changes made

Impressive is the village church of Saint-Étienne-de-Lugdarès made of volcanic rock, which is also called 'la cathédrale de la Montagne' due to its imposing appearance.

The Abbey of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, 12 km west of Saint-Laurent-les-Bains, was founded in 1854 and is located at an altitude of 1100 meters.

Collégiale St-Julien of Tournon in the Ardeche Collégiale St-Julien of Tournon in the ArdechePhoto: FredSeiller CC 4.0 International no changes made

The Collégiale St-Julien is the former (until 1790) collegiate church of Tournon-sur-Rhône with a 14th century gothic facade, a square bell tower and a restored 17th century organ. The Chapelle des Pénitents is the oldest part of the church with beautiful 15th and 16th century murals.

The church of Bourg-Saint-Andéol, late 11th century, is named after Saint Saint -Andéol or Andéol du Vivarais, one of the first Christian martyrs of the Ardèche and born in Izmir (martyred in 208), Turkey in the 2nd century. The facade of the church was restored in the 18th century.

Lalouvesc, a place of pilgrimage, has a 19th century Romanesque-Byzantine basilica, built by the architect Pierre Bossan, who specialized in ecclesiastical architecture in 1737. canonized Jean-François Régis (1597-1640) lies in a shrine. Régis was a French folk preacher and Jesuit from the time of the Counter-Reformation and died in Lalouvesc. The lavish interior features columns of different colors of marble, gold-clad arches, a beautifully painted dome and very colorful stained glass windows.

Image of Saint Jean -François Régis Image of Saint Jean -François Régis, ArdechePhoto: Havang (nl) in the public domain

In the episcopal city of Viviersis the smallest cathedral in France still in use, the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent. The cathedral, with a free-standing 12th century bell tower (formerly a defense tower), was inaugurated in the 12th century by Pope Calixtus II and completely rebuilt by Bishop Claude de Tournon in the late 15th century. The Gothic choir contains beautiful walnut choir stalls and a marble main altar from the 18th century. The ship was designed in 1759 by the Avignon architect Jean-Baptiste Franque.

Cathédrale Saint- Vincent in Viviers, Ardèche Cathédrale Saint-Vincent in Viviers, ArdèchePhoto: Morburre CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The largely 12th-century church of Champagne is the only church in the Rhônedal with a vaulted nave consisting of a number of domes on trumpets, (funnel) shaped supporting vaults that transition from a square to a polygonal or round superstructure like a dome. The church also has beautiful choir stalls from the 15th century.

The Église de Melás of the town of Le Teil is a Romanesque style church typical of the Vivarais region. The church has a fairly low, square bell tower and consists of three parts: a side aisle or chapel, a 12th century nave and an octagonal baptistery or baptistery from the 9th century.




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Last updated May 2024
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