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Metz Cathedral at 800: The extraordinary art and architecture of ‘God’s Lantern’

It has been eight centuries, to the year, since Pope Honorius III issued an edict to raise money for a new cathedral in the city of Metz. And while it would be years before the first stone was laid, and three centuries until the building was complete, the French city has chosen 2020 to celebrate the birthday of a spectacular structure known as “God’s Lantern.”
It is a nickname befitting both of the building’s distinctive honey-like glow — a property of the local limestone — and an expanse of stained glass that is among the world’s largest. Featuring one of the tallest naves in Gothic architecture, Metz Cathedral (or to give it its formal name, the Cathedral of Saint Stephen) can be considered among the finest examples of medieval church-building.
And yet, it is far less famous than similarly-sized contemporaries, namely Cologne Cathedral and Notre Dame in Paris. According to Christoph Brachmann, who specializes in medieval art and architecture at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this is due to Metz’s long history of political wrangling, which saw the city change hands between kingdoms and empires.

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