Aerial view of Ars-sur-FormansAerial view of Ars-sur-Formans
©Aerial view of Ars-sur-Formans|Sanctuaire d'Ars
A monumental nuggetin a small village in the Dombes region

Basilica of Saint Sixtus

A hidden treasure in a small Ain village, you’ll be amazed by this imposing basilica, a reminder of a Sacred History marked by Jean-Marie Vianney.

An air of Fourvière in Lyon

The Curé of Ars had a breathtaking Basilica built. From the moment you enter the village, it dominates. You can’t miss it. Its size is astonishing, and its original structure intriguing. Why was such a large basilica built in this small village?

Many eras probably!

Several eras, several styles

First, the exterior, the carron bell tower stands out from the domes: what a pretty juxtaposition !The colorful interplay of materials  the green of the dome roofs, the brick red of the bell tower, the white and ochre of the stone announce the richness of the interior polychromy.

The bulk of the decorations resides in the upper parts. Only reliefs and friezes make up the important decorations on the walls.

The dome is impressive. At each of its corners, 8 monumental sculptures representing seated angels give an impression of tranquility as if they were watching over the basilica.

The Basilica’s main entrance is that of the original church, a Romanesque-era church partly rebuilt, restored and embellished by the Curé d’Ars. A true journey back in time!

The church has remained as it is, filled with memories:

The five chapels built by the Curé d’Ars: the Chapel of the Virgin, the Chapel of Ecce Homo…

The former tabernacle, the confessional for ladies, the former marble altar

The little pulpit where the Curé d’Ars taught catechism or, again, the preaching pulpit

The nave introduces another part: that enlarged from 1862 to 1910. As the church had become too small to accommodate all the crowds, the Curé d’Ars approved plans for a basilica signed by Pierre-Marie Bossan, architect of the Basilique de Fourvière in Lyon.

That’s why the Basilica’s structure is so singular!

A jewel of neo-Byzantine architecture

You can’t help but contemplate this jewel of neo-Byzantine architecture: what harmony in the lines, what magnificence, what elegance!

Two chapels with walls engraved with plaques of thanks face each other. Their marouflaged paintings illustrate the life of the Saint. One of them, the Chapelle de la Châsse, in front of which many pilgrims gather every day, contains the Saint’s body perfectly preserved and visible to all. Only his face is covered by a wax mask sculpted in his effigy.

The basilica’s choir is breathtaking for its slender lines and polychromy due to the white limestone of the bases and capitals, the red granite and the grey and green marble of the columns. The brightly-painted walls and ribbed dome draw you upwards. What a marvel with its varied decorations: stained glass windows, paintings imitating mosaics, sculptures, stained glass windows featuring angels… give us an impression of richness!