The Église St-François (Church of St. Francis) overlooks the bustling Place St-François in the commerical heart of Lausanne.
Dating from 1272, the church was once the center of a Franciscan monastery set against the southern city walls. It is now a Protestant parish church.
History of St-Francois
In 1272, the Franciscans completed construction on their new Église St-François. Throughout the Middle Ages, the church was the heart of a sizeable monastic complex sheltered by the southern city wall.
The nave had to be fully renovated after Lausanne's devastating fire in 1368, at which time the clock tower was also added, and chapels and murals were donated by wealthy families in the 14th and 15th centuries.
In 1536, the Reformation came with the Bernese army and the monastery was closed. The monastic church was stripped of its religious imagery and became the parish church of the Ville Basse (lower town).
In 1664, John Lisle, an Englishman and former magistrate of King Charles I (executed in 1649) who had fled to Lausanne, was assassinated by Stuart henchmen in the Église St-François.
The other monastic buildings have not survived; the last remaining walls of the monastery were demolished between 1895 and 1902.
The interior of the church has undergone a number of renovations in the centuries since its Protestant transformation, not all in good taste. The most recent work was completed in 1995, including automatic sliding doors at the entrance.
What to See at St-Francois
The church has an attractive exteriorand is a serene presence amidst the shopping and traffic of the Place St-François. The Église St-François is worth a look inside, but little remains of its illustrious Franciscan past.
Concerts are frequently held in the church, and Lausanne's small-but-good Christmas market is set up on the street beneath it.
Quick Facts on St-Francois
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||46.519658° N, 6.633435° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near St-Francois|
- Personal visit (exterior only; December 2006)
- Eglise St-Francois - MEMO
- St-Francois church - WCities
- The Rough Guide to Switzerland 3 (2006), p. 128.
- Photos of St-Francois - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of St-Francois, Lausanne
Below is a location map and aerial view of St-Francois. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.