Wednesday 31 August 2011

Auxerre 2

(Click to enlarge)
Top: Items in the Cathedral Treasury including an ivory ciborium
Second: South Choir Aisle looking towards Ambulatory
Third: Modern Statue of St Germanus of Auxerre
Bottom: Reliquary in Limoges enamel cloissone work in the cathedral treasury (13th century)

Thursday 25 August 2011

Auxerre 1

(Click to enlarge) Note: these images are not in their intended order.
Views of the west front of Auxerre Cathedral.
Although never completed, the west facade of Auxerre Cathedral has an impressive array of sculpture from the high relief of the archivolt figures (top) to the bas relief imagery seen in the bottom illustration with its details of the fall and expulsion of Adam and Eve at the top to Noah's Ark in the bottom right hand panels.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Pontigny 2

(Click to enlarge)
The Reliquary/Tomb of St Edmund of Abingdon in the former abbey church of Pontigny and, bottom, modern altar in the church.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Pontigny 1

(Click to enlarge)

I discovered the Abbey of Pontigny while towing our caravan from Troyes to Auxerre. Fortunately there is a large car park on the opposite side of the road in the village and so I was able to pull over and explore. And what a discovery! The second daughter house of Citeaux having associations with St Bernard and St Stephen Harding, it was also visited by St Thomas Becket and also St Edmund of Abingdon - also Archbishop of Canterbury. St Edmund is buried there, his relics having been hidden in a place of safety when the Huguenots were attacking during the Wars of Religion and apparently overlooked during the French Revolution.
Another famous Archbishop of Canterbury who visited was Cardinal Stephen Langton- author of the Veni Sancte Spiritus sequence, who features in Magna Carta and is also credited with having divided the books of the Bible into chapters. On a signboard recording important visitors in the monastic buildings he is listed as "Blessed" - which surprised me. I had no idea that he had been beatified.
The Cistercians are long since departed. In the Refectory there was an exhibition about a period when the abbey was in lay ownership who hosted conferences for pretentious intellectuals- of which France has a fine tradition. The church itself is a fine gothic building with a seventeenth century stalls and screen. It has a slight air of musty decay and, as with so many historic French churches, a rather poor looking modern altar.

Friday 19 August 2011

Troyes 3

(Click to enlarge)
Top: Transept Rose and Lancets
Second: Glass panel flanking entrance to Blessed Sacrament chapel- Angel (etched glass)
Third: Altar, Crossing, view towards apse.
Bottom: Painting in nave - Grisaille: SS. Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great and Ambrose
I remember the Cathedral of Troyes fondly. We were at mass there on Sunday 10th July. The celebrant was the Bishop of Troyes and although Mass was largely in French we were able to add our lusty English voices to the singing of the Latin Gloria VIII (Missa de Angelis) and Credo III.
Kneeling was, however, difficult since only the first few rows of seats were provided with kneelers and the rows of chairs were placed somewhat closely together. Few of the French kneel- but why this is so I do not know.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Troyes 2

(Click to enlarge)

The Cathedral of Troyes is renowned for its glass as may be seen from the images of the stained glass windows above. Perhaps this is the reasoning behind the rather unusual tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel off the south aisle seen in the bottom photo. Just above that may be seen the glass case displaying the model and drawings for the proposed new altar. The proposed design appears to involve a basic stone structure with a free "floating" mensa of clear glass through which the "sepulchre" or container holding the relics may be seen.
It is a- perhaps- novel idea which , nevertheless highlights the place of the relics in the altar. Given the tendecy of dispensing with relics altogether these days this cannot be altogether bad.

Wednesday 17 August 2011


(Click to enlarge)

The Cathedral of Troyes.
Top: Looking up at the vault. The interior of the cathedral of Troyes is light and airy. In addition to the large windows of the clerestory there are also windows lighting the open arcading of the triforium.
From the nave looking into the north transept.
From the nave looking east.
Bottom. Towards the choir, apse and ambulatory.

Monday 15 August 2011

Saint Remi - Rheims 2

(Click to enlarge)
Top: Shrine of St Remi
Middle: Nave towards high altar
Bottom: Medieval tiles

Sunday 14 August 2011

Saturday 13 August 2011

Rheims Cathedral 5

(Click to enlarge) Top: Items from the Cathedral Treasury including an ivory ciborium. The museum also displays several exhibits from the very last coronation (robes,vestments and altar vessels). This was of Charles X in 1825.
Centre: Central doorway of the west facade. At the centre the Virgin and Child. The figures lining the entrance represent- to the right, the Annunciation and Visitation and, to the left, both the Annunciation and the Visitation.
Bottom: Model( in the museum) representing the roofing structure installed during the restoration following the First World War. The cathedral was very badly damaged during the Great War. Restoration, which continued almost until the start of the Second World War, was largely funded by the American Rockefeller family- hence the "Rue Rockefeller" leading to the west front of the cathedral.

Friday 12 August 2011

An aside on recent disturbances

Like most respectable Englishmen I have been appalled at all these black youths behaving like members of the Bullingdon Club.

(Messrs Cameron and Johnson, take note!)

Rheims Cathedral 4

(Click to enlarge)
Top: "The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin" - original medieval figures from west facade now preserved in the museum in former archbishop's palace.
Below: "The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin" replacement sculpture in situ
West Portal details- Here it is interesting to see the treatment of the stone "plinths" below the canopied jamb figures with illusionistic draperies.
Bottom: View of the lower part of the north tower of the west facade. Here it is possible to see through the tower openings towards the flying buttresses against the north wall of the nave- a remarkable example of the "revolution" which occurred in medieval architecture whereby massive masonry walls came to be replaced by an almost lace-like open structure of "lines" in stone.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Rheims Cathedral2

(Click to enlarge) Some details of Rheims Cathedral.
Top: High Altar
View of nave
Site of Baptism of Clovis (floor of nave)
Bottom: New High Altar