The Collegiate Church of Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche was built in 1181 on the site of a Roman church. The former kept the latter’s bell-tower-church, which is typical of Roman art from Limousin. The prestigious character of this new building, bigger and brighter, suited the services of the canon community and was appropriate for the veneration of the relics of Aredius, the monastery’s founder and the city’s patron saint.
The chancel was built first, followed by the northern arm of the transept, bordered by a chapel.
Under the leadership of dean Bernard de Limoges and his family, construction continued at the start of the 13th century with the building of a new nave, from east to west. Its length was limited by the old Roman bell tower, which was kept for financial reasons. The transept’s southern arm, built around the same time, contains a large doorway with many archivolts, which are typical of Limousin Gothic architecture. Christ the Redeemer thrones above, in the middle of three semicircular blind arches framed by archivolts.
This façade was complemented by a chapel at the end of the 13th century. It was only in the 15th century that the chancel was enlarged by a 5-section apse in a radiant Gothic style.
From 1870 to 1880, the architect Paul Abadie, who worked with Viollet-le-Duc on the restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris, transformed the building’s outside appearance by changing the roof and capping the battlements on all the buttresses. The fantastical architecture makes the Collegiate Church look like a fortified church even though it never had the attributes of one in the past.
Inside the church, many faces are sculpted on the modillions, capitals and bases. The stained-glass windows, made in the second half of the 19th century, add a touch of colour. One of them depicts Saint Aredius and the dove miracle.