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Épinal is a French commune located in the Vosges department, in
the Grand Est region. Prefecture, it is located in the south of the
historical and cultural region of Lorraine. Épinal is crossed by the
Moselle, a tributary of the Rhine.
In the 2017 census, the intramural municipality (without its suburb) had 31,740 inhabitants. In 2015, Epinal's urban area had 93,184 inhabitants and 59,586 jobs in 2017 in its employment area. It is, by far, the first town in the Vosges, and the fourth in Lorraine, behind Metz, Nancy and Thionville.
Basilica of Saint-Maurice d'Épinal
The Basilica of Saint-Maurice d'Épinal is a religious building built, for its current state, between the eleventh century and the thirteenth century, it depends on the diocese of Saint-Dié. In the Middle Ages, the land depended on the Lord of Metz; for the religious, they depended on the diocese of Toul, parish of Dogneville. The basilica is probably located on the site of the first church in the city, built in the tenth century by Bishop Gérard de Toul at the request of Thierry de Hamelant, Bishop of Metz; the parish is made up of five manses taken from the parish of Dogneville: Spinal, Grennevo, Avrinsart, Villers and Rualménil3. Thierry de Hamelant, founding the monastery, the church welcomed both the population of the city and the Benedictine monks, was initially dedicated to Saint Maurice. To complete the foundation, the two bishops moved, Thierry de Hamelant bringing the relics of Saint Goëry, a miracle would have taken place on this occasion reported by Widric4. South of the nave was the cloister. To the south of the choir was associated the first Spinalian cemetery, on the current Place de l'Atre, as recalled by a crucifix applied to the wall of the south arm of the transept. The next bishop, Adalbéron II, finding the monastery deserted, decided to install Benedictine nuns there under the patronage of Saint Goëry, one of his predecessors at the cathedral of Metz.
In the middle of the eleventh century, a new Romanesque church was rebuilt and consecrated by the Lorraine pope Leo IX. It is assumed that it looked comparable to today. The walls of the nave are still those of the eleventh century to which aisles were added in the thirteenth century. The traces of the original openings are clearly visible on the outside, on the south wall.
It is probably during the 13th century that the nuns are replaced by a chapter of canonesses which will last until the end of the 18th century. Again consecrated to Saint-Maurice, the collegiate church also served as a parish church for the inhabitants of Épinal, an altar having been placed for this purpose at the eastern end of the nave.
Work took place from the thirteenth century to the fourteenth century. From the thirteenth century, the choir was rebuilt, a new portal opening onto the city was built in the north wall of the nave and the latter was covered with vaults.
In 1846, the church was classified as a historical monument. In the 19th century, the belfry tower was opened with a neo-Romanesque portal.
It was on February 20, 1933 that the parish church of Saint-Maurice was consecrated as a minor basilica, under the pontificate of Pius XI. Important restorations took place in the twentieth century. A parasol with a red and gold band, an escutcheon and a bell, in the choir, recall this title.