The Romanesque chapel of Saint-Jacques, a charming little building with a sober decoration in the image of rural chapels, is located on a promontory of the hill overlooking the whole of the lower town of Cavaillon with one of the most beautiful views of the town.
The Saint Jacques hill is also the place where the town was founded and the first human occupations, visible through the remains of Neolithic settlements, and especially a Gallic oppidum.
The start of the Way of Saint James, made up of steps, can be seen to the right of the Tourist Office. It was once marked by a monumental gate built in 1611.
In the last century, the entrance to this path underwent significant changes. In 1895, the enlargement of the square led to the destruction of the Clos Gate.
The path, which is made up of a succession of steps, allows easy access to the top of this hill, in about twenty minutes. It leads from the Roman arch to the cross at the top. From there, itineraries are available at the Tourist Office.
To the right of the cross, you can admire a very pretty 12th century chapel in the Romanesque Provencal style.
The building is composed of the chapel preceded by the porch, the hermitage rooms to the south and its garden with its grandiose panorama. The original building was probably built in the 12th century on a natural stronghold.
The chapel was extended by two bays, a porch and a hermitage between the 16th and 17th centuries. A text dating from 1300 attests to the presence of a hermitage from this period and indicates that it is the chapter of the Cathedral of Cavaillon that directly appoints the hermits. This tradition lasted until the middle of the 19th century.
Its most famous host was César de Bus (1544-1607), founder of a congregation devoted to the teaching of Christian doctrine. In the 19th century, the Jouve family took charge of its restoration and the development of the surrounding enclosure.
In 2021, the chapel was partially restored and its adjoining garden was entirely renovated.
A few words about César de Bus
Born in 1544 and died in 1607, César de Bus was a priest in Cavaillon. As a young nobleman from Cavaillon, he was deeply affected by the Wars of Religion, and decided to join the Church. He isolated himself for some time at the hermitage on St Jacques hill. In 1592, he founded a doctrine, the Congregation of Christian Doctrine.
This doctrine was the first not written in Latin. Moreover, it was presented in a very clear manner so that it was accessible to all. Caesar de Bus was convinced that the Church had a duty to instruct the people.
After the death of Caesar de Bus, many religious continued to preach the doctrine. These fathers of Christian doctrine gradually established themselves throughout Provence. Before 1789, these fathers numbered 64 throughout France.
Today, they continue the mission of César de Bus in many countries, notably in Italy, Africa and Brazil. In Cavaillon, the Fathers of the Christian Doctrine carry out the pastoral ministry of the cathedral parish. It was in our cathedral that César de Bus was baptised and ordained a priest. Finally, in 1975, César de Bus was beatified.
In this regard, a painting of the bishop as a beatified person is in the centre of a chapel in the cathedral dedicated to him.
In 2020, Pope Francis announced that Caesar de Bus would be canonised. This announcement has given rise to a desire in Cavaillon, his home town, to participate in this great celebration.
For the occasion, the town has restored the calades and gardens of the Saint-Jacques chapel as well as its interior furnishings. The canonisation is expected to take place in 2022.
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