It is the oldest Christian sanctuary in Lyon. The Saint-Irénée church on the heights of the 5th arrondissement is being restored.
As part of the 4th heritage convention between the State and the City of Lyon, restoration work on the Saint-Irénée church has been underway since December 2021. They are expected to last until the end of the year.
The church of St. Irenaeus is a site catholic of importance. It includes a basilica dating from the fifth century AD. It is probably one of the oldest in France. The religious building has since been remodeled many times, until a reconstruction of the high church between 1824 and 1830. It has been classified as a Historical Monument since 1862. The crypt, dating back to the IXe or Xe century, reused part of the ancient walls. She is suffering from dampness today. The church has also been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998.
The restoration project concerns both the exteriors and the interior. On its western facade, the fence wall located on Rue des Macchabées and the Soufflot entrance gate are being worked on.
The works also include the repair of the 23 stained glass windows and 12 painted medallions but also of the crypt, the oldest part of this structure installed on an ancient Roman necropolis.
But some past restorations have not always been happy. « 20 stained glass windows did not pose major problems, the sinkers to be changed, glasses to be taken back or glued… On the other hand, 3 stained glass windows pose very complex conservation problems. They are being analyzed at the Historical Monuments research laboratory in Paris », explains Richard Goulois, heritage architect at the firm Croisée d’archi. Today it is about « stabilize these three stained glass windows » who are not « not restorable given the application of very harmful resins », he adds.
Important archaeological work is being carried out in the crypt where the architecture of the building is finely scrutinized.
The amount of the renovation of the church of St. Irenaeus amounts to 1.3 million euros. The City of Lyon financed the operation to the tune of 782,800 euros. The State through the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs contributed by subsidizing 396,400 euros. Finally, the Diocese of Lyon also contributed 120,000 euros. This restoration phase is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
As part of the heritage agreement between the State and the City of Lyon, three other Lyon churches are currently being renovated. « In the 1st arrondissement, the restoration of the Saint-Bruno church, a baroque church, is being continued and completed. In the 2nd arrondissement, Saint-Bonaventure is under construction and Saint-Nizier will start now », summarizes Sylvain Godinot, deputy Mayor of Lyon for ecological transition and heritage.