Thursday, April 14, 2016

Medieval France: Ste. Chapelle

Ste. Chapelle's tall windows.

Though Ste. Chapelle isn’t from the period of history I’m studying, it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Christine worshipped here at some time or was at least aware of it.  The chapel took Henri III’s breath away.  Others must have understood that it was a gem.  Besides which, the reliquaries that were housed here would have made it interesting to any religious person in the middle ages.

I’m glad I made the trip.  You enter on the ground floor.  Even at that level, the beauty is overwhelming.  I almost missed the staircase to the top floors.  It wasn’t obvious, and I hadn’t read anything about St. Chapelle before I went.  But I saw people walking up the stairs, so up I went.  Breathtaking is probably too mild a word to describe St. Chapelle.  From the beautiful tiled floors, the windows rise up 139 feet into a vaulted ceiling painted with stars.

If you have a chance to see a concert in Ste. Chapelle, go.  
This performance was Bach's Cello Suites, some of my 
favorite music.
If you’ve visited old churches in France, you may be used to the uniform grey of the stone and the niches.  In reality, the medieval church was brightly painted, outside and in, St. Chapelle’s colors have been restored, and they add to its magnificence. 

I returned to St. Chapelle a second time to hear three of Bach’s Cello Suites.  It’s common in Paris through June and July to host musical events in the famous churches.  And why not, the acoustics are wonderful.  Plus it’s a wonderful excuse for tourists to spend time in a church without having to practice a religion.

Sitting in St. Chapelle, I had time to appreciate things other than the windows.  There are five angels carved over the chancel, and I spent much of my time staring at them.  Also as I sat wondering where the reliquaries the Chapelle had been built for were kept, I discovered wells and niches in the walls that I hadn’t noticed when my neck was craned and my eyes were gazing upwards. 

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