Churches of Toulouse

I am a lover of old things. I could spend hours at antique and vintage stores; I find such beauty and warmth in antiques that I don’t feel with modern things. I love old architecture for the same reasons, but even more so because I feel a sense of permanence and a connection with the past. I find old cathedrals particularly beautiful, with their impressive architecture, innumerable details, and long history. As a city that flourished in the Middle Ages, Toulouse has many beautiful churches and cathedrals to explore!

Basilica of St. Sernin

One of the most famous churches in Toulouse is St. Sernin, which in fact is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I find the history of this church fascinating, so I’m going to tell it. It is named after the first bishop of Toulouse, Sernin, or Saturnin, sent there by the Pope as a missionary. The pagan population decided to kill him by dragging him through the streets tied to a bull. Two Christian women in the town protected his dead body from pagan profanation by burying it. In the 300’s and 400’s AD, Sernin’s successors built a church on his burial site to house his remains, which today is the site of the Notre Dame du Taur (Our Lady of the Bull) church. As the number of pilgrims to the site grew, another larger church was built at the end of the 4th century. In the 700’s, Charlemagne gifted the larger church with many important relics, leading to an explosion of pilgrimage. The current St Sernin church was built in 1080 to accommodate the further increase in pilgrims.

My mom and I were both amazed at how “tall and thin” the inside of the church was, in comparison to others we’ve seen.

The high windows

The tomb of St Sernin himself

The Church of the Jacobins

The Church of the Jacobins, built in the 1200’s, was the home of the Dominican monks (called “Jacobins” in France) of Toulouse.

It’s a bit plain on the outside, but the inside is certainly breathtaking.

The columns are called “Palm Trees”

The first thing you see upon entering is one of the arches, which remind me of Moorish designs with their shape and colorful geometric tile patterns. (Well, what used to be colorful tiles, they are faded after hundreds of years and didn’t show up very well in the picture.)

If you are familiar with church history, then you probably know the name Thomas Aquinas. He is considered one of the greatest theologians and thinkers of the Middle Ages and is a saint in the Catholic church. After being kept in St Sernin for centuries, his remains are now in the Jacobin church. He was a Dominican, after all.

The church kindly put a mirror around the base of the biggest column to provide a better, and less painful, view of the incredible ceiling.

We didn’t go into the cloister, but this is what it looks like.

Credit: Wikipedia


There are so many more beautiful churches in Toulouse to highlight, this will end up being a post of multiple parts!


About emily

In love with all things travel and culture.
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10 Responses to Churches of Toulouse

  1. Jeff Webb says:

    glad to see your in church 🙂

  2. Jeff Webb says:

    you’re not your… sheesh!

  3. Jeff Webb says:

    merci beaucoup for not disowning me…

  4. Mauricio says:

    Thanks for the post. Thomas Aquinas is one of the most powerful thinkers in Church’s history. In fact, he ‘baptized’ Aristotle which he got from Arabic sources translated into Latin. Part of his greatness was this recovery of Aristotle’s legacy for the European world. For this work he risked his reputation as he was almost declared an heretic for bringing pagan ideas into Christianity. He also composed an Hymn called Adoro te Devote to the presence of Jesus in the Communion Host; this was a request from the Pope for an Hymn for the then recently created feast of Corpus Chisti. One of the coolest things about him is that at the end of his life he got a vision of God and after that he refused to do any theological work considering all he had said before about Him rubish in comparison with the real vision of God.

  5. Mauricio says:

    Reading your post I recalled also another adventure of Thomas Aquinas: he belonged to a powerful family and they didn’t wanted him to be Dominican as they were a new poor order and they had plans to make him a Benedictine (a more powerful older order), and he could had been an abbey (that is a monastic bishop). So his brothers kidnapped him and incarcerated him and he managed to escape after some time, basically his family gave up and he became a Dominican. He also had to resist a very direct temptation against his chastity orchestrated by his brothers and after that God gave him the gift of a perfect chastity, I guess that helped him to focus a lot in his studies 🙂

    • Hi Mauricio, thanks for your always interesting comments! I had heard the story about his brothers trying to send prostitutes to seduce him haha. What a beautiful story about his vision of God, I didn’t know about that but I can see how he felt that way.

  6. Pingback: The Search for an English Bookstore | Life in La Ville Rose

  7. Pingback: Churches of Toulouse Pt 3 | Life in La Ville Rose

  8. Pingback: Churches of Toulouse Pt 4 | Life in La Ville Rose

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