The story of Saint-Die

Saint-Die Travel Blog

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Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, commonly referred to as Saint-Dié, is a commune in the Vosges department in Lorraine in northeastern France. Saint-Dié (Deodatum, Theodata, S. Deodati Fanum) is named after Saint Deodat. This holy man, as he is named popularly "le bonhomme", is foundator of a ban, a political and Christian subdivision of the royal territory, originally called "foresta" in the 7th century. Old religious historians believed he was episcopus of Nevers and was precisely Deodatus of Nevers. Deodatus would had given up his episcopal functions to retire to a desert place. Some sources connect the name, however, with an earlier saint, Deodatus of Blois (d. 525).

Archeology and historic toponymes proves the large anteriority of human occupations. A hypothesis of a columna constructed by Romans, in a locus originally dedicated to Tiwaz, Tius, god of war, may explain ancients ceremonies in old saint-Dié chapelle, under the Kemberg mountain locally called Saint-Martin. Deodatus who may be at his end of life a hiberniensis papa - and not a niverniensis pope, a bishop from Nevers - would have lived in an old monasterium or "vieux moutier" above this old chapelle and water.

Legends written since 11th century and popular traditions says saint Dié dreamed a new monasterium in a little hill called "monticule des Jointures" in the other riverside he could see. A little monastic community dedicated to saint Maurice, has been probably founded during the Carolingians times. It is proved in this locus since the 10th century. After 1006 the monastery has taken the name Saint-Dié that progressively erase the first name. The little monastery was also partially destroyed by fire in 1065 and in 1155.

Maybe they were a chapter of canons, maybe they became two centuries later. Historians deny Brunon de Dabo-Egisheim, future Pope Leo X, to be young monk and great provost here, but his family plays a great role in the elevated status of this religious place, giving after the first crusades their blason. But canons who subsequently held the rank of provost or dean were coming from very rich and noble family. Among those Giovanni de Medici and several princes coming from the ducal House of Lorraine. Among the extensive privileges enjoyed by them was that of coining money. The Duchy of Lorraine buys last rights of monnoyage in 1601.

Though they co-operated in building the town walls in 1290, the canons and the dukes of Lorraine soon became rivals for the authority over Saint-Dié. Towards the end of the 15th century it was supposed by a local historian one of the earliest printing presses of Lorraine was founded at Saint-Dié. But all the printing figures and even filigraned papers were the same in a strasburg's printer. The institution of a town council in 1628 which appropriated part of their temporal jurisdiction, and numerous French occupation contributed greatly to diminish the financial influence of the canons. During the Stanislas reign and after the Lorraine annexion in 1776, the establishment in 1777 of a bishopric condemned the venerable institution. They serve the first bishop Monseigneur de Chaumont. With the French Revolution all the religious people were completely swept away.

During the wars of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries the town was repeatedly sacked. The little but religiously very prestigious town was partially destroyed by fire in 1554 and 1757. Funds for the rebuilding of the portion of the town destroyed by the last fire were supplied by Stanislas, last duke of Lorraine. The town was completely redesigned and vastly rebuilt. In fact, it was largely created in French uniform style after the fire of 1757. But a major part was destroyed in November 1944 and was rebuilt largely in a material imitating red sandstone. Its cathedral has a Gothic nave and choir designed in the 14th century; the portal of red stone was created by Giovanni Betto in the beginning of 18th century. A fine cloister, begun in 14th and 15th century but never finished, contains a stone pulpit, and communicates with the Petite-Eglise or Notre-Dame-de-Galilée, a well-preserved specimen of Romanesque architecture in the 12th century. All of the monuments were restored or rebuilt in the same manner after 1950.

Since 1880 the Council House named "Mairie" contained a marvelous theater, a library with some old and valuable manuscripts, a hall of reading, and a museum of rocks and antiquities collected by the members of the Vosges Philomatic Society. This society, which engaged in the collection and diffusion of knowledge, was founded in 1875 by Henry Bardy, who was soon a member of editing council of the first local republican paper named La Gazette Vosgiennne. All this center of town was destroyed in November 1944.

After 1948, a new hôtel-de-ville was built 100 meters to the west, without the last cultural equipment. At its west side there is now a monument by Merci to Jules Ferry, long ago in an old union place under the Cathedral. Born in the town in 1832, Jules Ferry was a great French politician of the beginning conservative Republic, constitutionally called Third Republic in 1875.

After World War II, the right side of the Meurthe was completely eradicated and most people lived outside the town in wood cabins for decades. The radical plan created by Le Corbusier in 1945 calling for a large plaza with factories and other buildings in the heart of the city was rejected in 1947, and only one private factory belonging to Jean-Jacques Duval was ever built. There were no means nor materials in this terrible period and the great street called "rue Thiers" was fisnished only at the end 1954.

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EU flags everywhere
EU flags everywhere
Saint-Die
photo by: Chokk