Lyon Cathedral | Primatiale of the Gauls

Cathédrale Saint‑Jean‑Baptiste
Primatiale of the Gauls

The Cathedral Mother Church
a great house where the heart of the Diocese is beating
The Cathedral
Mother Church

a great house where the heart
of the Diocese is beating
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© T. Douet


Monthly news

The Cathedral 

Mother Church of the Diocese

The grace of a cathedral is also that it shows each one his or her place and mission among the great family (or the great house) of the Church. There, each one will receive the tools he or she needs to accomplish his or her due task, in order to help “building the Body of Christ” (Eph 4:12)

The Cathedral is the main church of the diocese of Lyon. The Bishop sits in that symbolic place where he teaches and accompanies the believers in their faithful lives. That is why we call it a Mother Church.

Le titre de Primatiale lui a été conféré au XIème siècle en raison de son histoire ancienne liée au martyre de Saint Pothin, de Sainte Blandine et de leurs compagnons en 177, faisant d’elle la plus ancienne église de France. La cathédrale a été le théâtre de deux conciles au XIIIème siècle, du couronnement du pape Jean XXII en 1316, du mariage d’Henri IV et de Marie de Médicis en 1600, et de bien d’autres événements religieux et civils d’envergure. Son maître autel a été consacré par le pape Innocent IV et le pape Saint Jean-Paul II y est venu en visite le 5 octobre 1986.

Its magnificence must not make us forget that this house of God is, just like its heart [or choir?], open to the vast diversity of its children. The Cathedral welcomes young and old alike, believers and non-believers, for great events as well as more private steps of everyday life, which are no less important.

Daily celebrations

© H. Delescluse

The Cathedral is open from 8:15 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends. During these times, you can come to pray, or to deposit a small candle or a prayer intention.

Throughout the day, in communion with the other Christian communities around the world, each one is invited to join in the Church’s prayer:

  • Les laudes sont priées à la chapelle des chanoines du lundi au samedi, à 8h40.
  • L’Eucharistie est célébrée dans la chapelle des Chanoines les matins, du lundi au samedi à 9h, et le vendredi soir à 19h. Le dimanche, elle a lieu à 8h30 et à 10h30, dans le chœur de la cathédrale.
  • L’adoration eucharistique est une prière qui prolonge la célébration et la communion reçue au cours de la messe. Le Saint-Sacrement est exposé dans la chapelle des chanoines chaque vendredi de 17h45 à 18h30.
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Jn 6, 35

Meeting a priest

Les prêtres offrent un temps d’écoute et de confession pour ceux qui le souhaitent. Vous pouvez venir les rencontrer librement lors de permanences.

À la cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

  • Mercredi : 17h › 19h
  • Vendredi : 17h › 19h

À la basilique Saint Bonaventure

  • Lundi : 14h30 › 16h & 17h › 19h
  • Mar › Ven : 10h › 12h & 14h30 › 16h & 17h › 19h
  • Samedi : 10h › 12h & 17h › 19h

Receiving the sacraments

The grace of God is manifest in the sacraments, through which the believer joins the Church and takes part in the divine life.

If you have any question or request, you can meet a priest during his duty periods (Monday to Friday, from 5pm to 7pm) or contact the reception.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Baptism is the first sacrament. It makes one enter the people of God, the Christian community, and gives access to every other sacrament. It can be received at birth, at school age, or as an adult. It is necessary to follow a preparation, whose length will vary accordingto age, in order to discover and absorb the Church’s faith.

Contact us:

Baptism requests

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; (…) I will put My Spirit within you (…) you shall be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:26-28)

Confirmation is the sacrament which fulfils the grace of baptism. While being provided with the gift of the Holy Spirit, like the Apostles on Pentecost, the person who is confirmed receives the force to answer God’s love and is committed to witnessing that love: it is the promise of a life rooted in Christ.

Contact us:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

The Sacrament of Penance, which is a sign of God’s infinite love, can be received all the time, at any age, so as to restore our relation with God, with ourselves, and with the others.

Un prêtre se tient à votre disposition pour vous recevoir les lundis (de 18h à 19h), mercredis (de 17h à 19h) et vendredis (de 17h à 19h).

Contact us:

How to confess

“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh.” (Matthew 19:6)

Many couples request the Sacrament of Matrimony, in order to give a sacred dimension to their mutual love, and to receive a divine force, so that they will love each other, in both happy and difficult times. Such a commitment requires a preparation of at least one year.

Contact us:

“Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up”

A Catholic worshipper may receive this sacrament when suffering from a serious disease, before an important operation, or if the disease progresses.

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Prayers for the sick

“(…) neither death nor life, (…) nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39)

The death of someone who was close to us, is always a hard time in life. The community welcomes your pain with compassion, and tries to support you, in prayer and care. It helps those who remain to say a last goodbye to the deceased, hoping he or she will join God in eternal life. If you have just lost a loved one, the Cathedral can receive you, in order to prepare the ceremony.
Vous venez de perdre un proche la cathédrale vous accueille pour préparer la cérémonie.

Contact us:

Learn more



We are at your service

  • Père Patrick ROLLIN, recteur
  • Père Nicolas BOSSU, vicaire
  • Père Bernard TOLON, prêtre auxiliaire
  • M. Patrick LAUDET, diacre

Appointed by the bishop, the canons celebrate the prayer of the hours and the Eucharist in the cathedral, praying for the intentions of the archbishop and of the diocese.

The altar servers are at the service of the prayer of the community and of the presiding priest in the choir of the cathedral. Through their mission, they help the faithful to enter into the mystery celebrated. To do this, they receive a training adapted to their service within the year.

The Maîtrise de la Primatiale

The Maîtrise de la Primatiale (choir school of the Cathedral) is the oldest musical institution in Lyon, as it was founded in 799 by Bishop Laidradus. It includes a choir of children and young people, as well as a choir of adults. It is dedicated to the liturgy of the Cathedral, through the various services that punctuate the year.

Maître de Chapelle : M. Thibaut LOUPPE (7 place Saint Irénée, Lyon 5ème | 04 26 20 51 60 |

  • La pré-maîtrise
  • La maîtrise
  • Le chœur de jeunes
  • L’ensemble Elevatio


The titular organist

M. Guillaume PRIEUR

Like an offering to the Creator, liturgical flowering contributes to the dignity and beauty of liturgical celebrations.

Present at each celebration, the reception service ensures that each person, faithful or passing visitor, believer or not, feels welcome.

Help us with your donation

Support the Cathedral’s activity

  • By sending your donation to the Association diocésaine de Lyon (6 avenue Adolphe Max, 69321 Lyon, 04 78 81 47 51), not forgetting to mention “at the benefice of Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste”. It is a tax deductible donation, and we can give you a tax receipt if needed.

For the sake of consistency, the Cathedral strives to reduce its ecological footprint. We are members of the Église Verte (Green Church) label , since April 2019.
Please feel free to share your improvement suggestions.

Contact us


Secrétaire générale de la cathédrale Saint Jean-Baptiste

Cure Saint-Jean-Baptiste
8 place Saint-Jean
69005 Lyon

0033 9 81 15 74 01 (from Monday to Friday)

Lyon Cathédrale Association, founded in 1924, aims to promote the reputation of Lyon Cathedral, within the city and beyond, as well as to preserve and share its historical, cultural, artistic and spiritual values, by any appropriate means.

Among our activities, we can mention organizing monthly organ sessions and managing the store. We have published a brochure about stained-glass windows. The association is editing and updating a multilingual flyer for visitors, made a financial contribution for restoring the candelabras of the Saint-Sacrement chapel, and so on…

You can join the association (annual subscription: 5€) and, if you have time, become a volunteer.

7 rue des Antonins, Lyon 5ème
Tel. Jacques Guillot : 06 77 41 35 86

Les Filles de la Charité de Saint Vincent de Paul

Fondée par Saint Vincent de Paul et Louise de Marillac, cette communauté internationale est appelée à servir les pauvres et les marginalisés. Humilité, Simplicité, Charité sont les piliers de leurs actions. À travers différentes associations, elles subviennent aux premiers besoins et aident les personnes à se reconstruire. Ce ne sont pas moins de 1931 communautés dans 94 pays qui constituent cette communauté. Et parmi celles-ci, la communauté de l’Avenue du Doyenné nous tient particulièrement à cœur.

Leurs actions…

8 avenue du Doyenné, Lyon 5ème
Tél. : 04 72 77 80 90


L’association Saint Vincent

L’accueil Saint Vincent :

Cet accueil est assuré par le foyer Notre-Dame des Sans-Abri, au 10 rue Bellièvre, Lyon 5ème. Il offre un instant de repos, d’échange avec des bénévoles, mais aussi un soutien d’ordre général et parfois administratif.

Toute l’année :
Lundi › Vendredi : 8h30 › 13h

Et aussi les week-ends en période hivernale :
Samedi : 9h › 13h
Dimanche : 9h › 11h (avec le soutien de l’Ordre de Malte)

Tél. (aux horaires d’ouverture) : 04 72 40 24 92


Le panier Saint Vincent :

Distribution de produits de première nécessité les vendredis matin de 9h à 11h au 3 rue Mourguet, Lyon 5ème, assurée par les équipes Saint Vincent en lien avec les services sociaux de la mairie du 5ème arrondissement.

Service d’alphabétisation :

Groupe de parole autour d’un café ouvert à tous chaque mardi de 14h à 16h (fermé en été).

Le foyer « l’Épi » de l’Arche

Cette communauté, fondée par Jean Vanier en 1990 vise à « faire connaître le don des personnes ayant un handicap mental à travers une vie partagée et de leur permettre de prendre une juste place dans la société. »

Heureux ensemble ! Le foyer est en lien avec les Filles de la Charité.

Tél. : 04 37 91 21 15

Liens :

Les « Écriveurs »

Pour les adultes cherchant à écrire, partager poésie et rêves… dans un climat convivial et fraternel.

Chaque vendredi de 14h à 16h en période scolaire. Pendant les vacances, se renseigner.

Tél. Mylène : 06 63 49 00 92

L’association AGAPA

Accompagne une personne qui a connu une interruption de grossesse ou la perte d’un enfant à la naissance sur rendez-vous.

Tél. : 06 29 59 50 87

Les Témoins de la Fraternité

Reprenant la relève du groupe Diaconia, ce groupe permet un échange entre toutes les personnes sensibles aux pauvretés actuelles, désireuses d’approfondir leur foi de manière simple et amicale.

Une rencontre toutes les 6 semaines, le jeudi de 14h à 16h.

Tél. M. Bois : 06 12118726

Le cabinet Raphaël

Vous êtes seul(e) ou en couple. Vous traversez des difficultés dans votre vie affective et relationnelle.
Des professionnelles sont là pour vous écouter et vous accompagner.

Tél. S.Passot : 06 62 52 85 55

Tél. F. Veyron-Lacroix : 06 61 17 05 64

Tél. I. St Georges : 06 71 78 37 80

Le groupe Co Naissance

Accompagne les personnes pour définir projet professionnel qui leur ressemble

Tél. : 04 27 02 52 83

Tél. : 04 78 81 47 73

Discover a thousand-year-old heritage

in the heart of Lyon

Known as the Primatiale of the Gauls, the cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Lyon was built between 1180 and 1480. It is characterized by a diversity of architectural and artistic styles. So many years, so many expressions of faith from the builders and so many wonders to discover!

Entering Lyon Cathedral means showing curiosity, going beyond your first impression to let it unveil its history and beauty.
Coming to the cathedral means opening your eyes wide to admire the building. It is also, if you wish, the opportunity to treat yourself to some time in silence.

The Portal

Stone images that invite us in
These images were made between 1308 and 1332, by order of Peter of Savoy (Archbishop of Lyon), as the construction of the Cathedral was coming to an end. At the beginning of the 14th century, Lyon was going through a period of turmoil : after the plague, wars followed. Its inhabitants used to think about death, about the Last Judgement, about time passing or life on Earth… This sculpted portal evokes temporal concerns, so that we can compare them, not without humour, with the eternity of the divine. The medallions form a kind of medieval comic strip : they tell stories, some of which can be educational. You will notice biblical stories as well as scenes from everyday life, a representation of the zodiac, the milestones of the year… Like people used to do in the Middle Ages, allow yourself to be instructed and moved. Following the passage between the outside and the inside, the medallions enhance the portal and emphasise its meaning. They invite us in, and encourage us to open the door in order to discover another space: a sacred space.

The Astronomical Clock

The legend tells that, in the 5th century, Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, gave the Church of Lyon a water clock (or clepsydra). Nonetheless, the presence of a clock within the Primatiale was firstconfirmed only in the 15th century. It has since been reconditioned and improved many times, by clockmakers from Lyon and Switzerland as well. When the clock is switched off, we immediately notice the sun and the moon, which follow their celestial course. This clock also indicates the religious holidays, binding two temporalities together : human time and divine time. Several times a day, the automated figures come to life, so that they, as well, can join in that sacred temporality. Men and women can sense and take part in the eternity of God, by the yearly repetition of the same holidays. Thus, for example, every year, the believers have a different inner experience when celebrating Easter or Christmas. In a similar way, this clock, maintained over the centuries, invites us to contemplate the impenetrable, and even sacred nature of time.

The Stained-Glass Windows

These men, in their own way, have witnessed the love of God, and they are thought to take part in eternal life. The Primatiale of the Gauls has a rich heritage in art glass, which can be partly explained by a terrible event. In 1944, just before the Liberation of France, the German troops bombed all the bridges of Lyon, including the PontTilsitt which connects the Vieux Lyon district to the Place Bellecour. Thus, nowadays, the beautiful glass windows of the Choir, with their typical 13th-century blue tones – which were then protected by some residents – stand alongside an emerging fine modern creation, which replaces the windows that were destroyed. The stained-glass windows of the Primatiale, whether they are full of meaningful symbols or simply coloured screens, always offer a medium for prayers and learning, thanks to their arrangements of representations, lights and colours. Their style has evolved, following the changes in human tastes. But light has always remained a central notion.


As its construction has spanned over 300 years, the Cathedral includes different architectural styles. Therefore, it offers a wide range of keystones and vaults, which reflect the beliefs of builders, for each period. After the Romanesque walls of the choir, the Gothic style spreads out all along the nave and the transept. At that point, builders opted for high structures, in order to get closer to God and to let His light in. The scenery is simple, and the finest details of the keystones are almost hidden from human eyes. In the chapel of the Bourbons, we can see the more recent Flamboyant style, with its sinuous and complex flame-like shapes. In the same chapel, the dropped keystone, truly carved in a lace pattern, illustrates the very technical nature of that style. Hence, it is Man who is pushed to the fore, rather than God. In the end, through its stones, its history and its activity, the Cathedral harmoniously brings together diverse, yet complementary tendencies.


Pieces of art which both testify and teach

Christians have settled in Lyon since the early centuries of our era. This Christian presence is very important for the city’s heritage. In the Northern transept, we can admire four paintings which work together : representations of St John the Evangelist, St Polycarp, St Pothinus and St Irenaeus. Tradition links these four figures together, through transmission of the faith : each one became the next one’s master. Pothinus and Irenaeus, who were both bishops of Lyon in Antiquity, died as martyrs, at a time when Christians were persecuted. In fact, as they believed in one God, they refused to worship the Roman emperor. The last painting depicts this act of refusal. In the Cathedral, you can find other portraits of believers who gave their lives for the love of Christ. There is a set of thirty-three of these paintings, scattered all around the edifice. Most of them were given by Cardinal Fesch (1763-1839), or stem from collections of the 19th century or even older collections.

Scagliola friezes

It is striking to find, in a French church, such friezes as those placed above the stained-glass windows, as they are typical of the 12th century Italian Renaissance. This decoration seems repetitive, while it is in fact full of visual motifs and surprises. We can notice fantastic or realistic faces, as well as animals, monsters, ancient patterns, etc. Red and white alternate because of the fabrication technique, similar to that used for cameos: white marble is hollowed out to form the background, which is then filled with brown cement. Thus the relief can remain white. These strange friezes are part of the very sophisticated ornamental plan of the choir. It is the most sacred area of the church, as it is central both in the edifice and during the Mass, when it becomes a place to commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus and his companions. This creative and artistic attitude, as an effective mark of sanctity, encourages to think and pray actively.

Sculpted decorations

Sculptures that embody the faith of the builders
Between the late 12th and the 15th century, the construction site of the Cathedral gathered various craftsmen: master glass-makers, carpenters, masons, stone carvers… Each one brought his talent in order to raise the edifice up to the sky, like a prayer. When we examine the upper parts, we discover a great variety of images which are in sharp contrast to the sobriety of the lower parts. In the upper gallery of the nave, which goes along the Southern glass roof,we find a long row of faces. In the chapel of St Peter and the martyrs, we can admire heads on top of the pillars. In the Northern transept, on top of a pillar, a little angel is gazing at the people passing by… Almost invisible, this refined art is a completely gratuitous act: it is not meant to put the artists forward. As only God can see them, these sculptures are like prayers and praises. True expressions of the builders’ faith, the portraits are all different and unique, and equally play an important part in building the Church.

Visit the cathedral

To discover the cathedral, its history, its architecture, its stained glass windows... the Pastoral Department of Tourism of the Diocese of Lyon organizes visits on request.

To request a visit, please complete the online form..

Volunteer guides may also be in the cathedral on Saturdays and Sundays, from 2:30pm to 5:30pm, depending on their availability.

For more information, contact the Pastorale du tourisme by email at or by phone at (+33) 04 78 81 48 81 (preferably in the morning, Monday to Friday).

Cathédrale Saint‑Jean‑Baptiste, place Saint‑Jean, Lyon 5ème

For all

Free entrance

Accessible to people with reduced mobility

Luggage under your supervision

Opening hours

Monday › Friday: 8:15am › 7:45pm
Saturday: 8:15am › 7pm
Sunday: 8am › 7pm

January 1, Easter Monday, May 1, May 8, Pentecost Monday, July 14 and November 11: closed in the morning, opening at 1pm

Hours of masses

Lundi › Samedi : 9h
Friday at 7pm
Sunday and holidays: 8:30am and 10:30am (solemn mass)

Lauds : Mon › Sat at 8:40am

Come on foot

The cathedral is located in the heart of the Vieux Lyon district, along the Saône, 10 minutes walk from Place Bellecour

Coming by public transport

Metro D, funiculars, buses 27 and 31, vélov

Stop at “Vieux Lyon, Cathédrale Saint-Jean”

Car park

LPA Saint Jean (at 146 meters)
Saint-Georges (at 203 meters)
Saint-Jean (at 237 meters)