The basilica was nestled in a neighborhood just off the city’s historic main line avenue, the side streets rippling off around the church as if it had just plopped there, a pebble in Toulouse’s architectural waters. The Basilica of Saint-Sernin — just one of the stops on the route of Santiago de Compostela in France — had, in fact, been constructed over several phases beginning in the fourth century, its red brick arches and buttresses departing from early church designs, its tower finally piercing the sky above the rose city. Still, a pilgrim wandering down from the Place du Capitole along the Rue du Taur, might find, upon his first glimpse of it among the jumbled storefronts and groceries, the basilica squat and small, a paradox among French churches, and would be, upon entering the building, surprised by this tardis of a sanctuary, its interior voluminous and vast.


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