My friend Patti and I were backpacking around Europe in 1971, and since winning a book about Chartres Cathedral for Gr. 12 French, it had been on my bucket list.
The last in a series of Druid gathering places, temples and churches on this very powerful ley line, the current Gothic structure was started in 1194 and finished in just 26 years, a record for the times.
I’d walked its famous labyrinth in 1971, not really understanding then its powerful energy. But I remember that walk like it was yesterday, and the brilliance of its incredible stained glass windows, many say the finest in the world. I’m sure this is where my fascination with glass art all began.
In 2000 while on a home exchange to Paris with our kids, we stopped there one day and an Assumption Day service was just starting. We sat near the barrier enclosing the huge congregation, quietly waiting as a procession of men in short white capes was assembling, also waiting, I think, for the old men in the fancy robes and tall hats.
Sunlight poured through the brilliant colours and scenes on the stained glass. Perfection, I thought. Then the organ started playing and I was transported. Tears streaming down my face, I could barely whisper “Merci, ma soeur” to a tiny grey-haired nun who reached across the barrier and gave me her program. I tried to sing along. I really did. But I was so overcome with the music, the light, the brilliance of it all, I could barely move my lips.
We think our society is so advanced, but I defy the acoustics and light of any modern building to rival what the Master Builders of centuries past achieved.
Stay tuned in my next blog for some very interesting facts about Chartres Cathedral, but in the meantime, check that photo I posted up top. It’s part of the north face.
Just look up. Way, way, way up. See the tiny white dot? Enlarge the photo and you’ll see a man in a hard hat, presumably tethered to the building!…scraping something off the building. Bits of moss? Pigeon poop? I wasn’t sure. But I wasn’t about to stand under it to see what it was!
This one shows the south side before (on the left) and after (on the right) restoration. Basically cleaning, although lots of repairs too.
Yeah, this section needs a wash
There it is again. The old and the new.
A la prochaine!
PS yes, I know, there’s supposed to be an accent grave over the ‘a’. But I havent’t figured out yet how to type in French.