The remarkable tapestries of Saint Etienne Cathedral of Toulouse

Saint Etienne Cathedral choir
Saint Etienne Cathedral choir

Saint Etienne Cathedral of Toulouse is in the possession of a collection of 30 tapestries dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. The artistic value of these tapestries brought them the recognition as Historic Monuments in 1897.
Nowadays these works, that once adorned the walls of the choir, transept and the nave of the cathedral, are kept closed, for their preservation, in a secure, light, temperature and humidity controlled environment and exposed by turns during important religious periods.
This year during the two weeks surrounding the Easter, there are exposed, hanged on the walls of the cathedral’s choir, four tapestries that illustrate scenes from the life of Saint Etienne. These works made from silk and wool and measuring 5 meters in length and 2 meters in height date from the beginning of the 17th century (1609).
Saint Etienne (Saint Stephen) lived in the first century AD and is traditionally venerated as the first martyr of Christianity. Being accused of blasphemy he is killed by stoning near the walls of Jerusalem.
The four tapestries on display this time are:
The ordination of Saint Etienne
The ordination of Saint Etienne

This tapestry represents the ordination of Saint Etienne by Saint Peter who touches the head of Saint Etienne. Behind Saint Peter there are the other apostles.

The stoning of Saint Etienne
The stoning of Saint Etienne

The tapestry depicts the martyrdom of Saint Etienne who died by stoning. In the right upper side we can see Jesus Christ coming on a cloud. On the left side of the tapestry the artist represented Saul who indeed according to tradition oversaw the stoning, Saul that later himself converted to Christian religion and is revered now as Saint Paul.

The burial of Saint Etienne
The burial of Saint Etienne

The background of this tapestry represents the city of Jerusalem.

The move of Saint Etienne's relics
The move of Saint Etienne’s relics

The tapestry illustrates the ceremonial move of Saint Etienne’s relics to the Church of Sion.

Sculted stalls of the choir
The sculpted stalls of the choir were carved in walnut in the beginning of the 17th century
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