Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Chartres II

As I believe I mentioned before, we had been to Chartres once before, on New Year's Day 2002. On that particular day the temperature was, as it had been all week, somewhere between 15 and 20 degrees F and, as we rode the bus out there, it suddenly dawned on me that an 800-year-old building would not be centrally heated, and that we would be frozen ALL DAY. And, indeed, we were. But that didn't stop us from admiring the cathedral as it rose into the deep blue January sky, and it didn't stop me from making plans for a return.

This past July, we took the train from Paris to spend two days there. The focus of our visit was the cathedral which, like our hotel, is a few blocks from the Chartres train station. We wandered around the cathedral itself, inside and out, day and night. We took two Malcolm Miller tours -- Mr. Miller is an English gentleman who has been guiding at the cathedral for nearly 50 years. He arrived as an undergraduate student working ona thesis for his French major, and essentially never left. We attended a choral performance by a group of high school students from England -- what an opportunity for them! -- and we stood outside one evening and listened to an organ rehearsal.

The cathedral as it exists today is mostly the 1260 version. At least five known cathedrals were constructed on the site (and various unsubstantiated myths and legends locate pre-Christian Druidic traditions there). A cathedral is the seat of a bishop in the Catholic Church -- and a Chartres cathedral was destroyed in 743 when the city was sacked by the Duke of Aquitanne. Another one was destroyed by the Vikings in 858, and a third was consecrated in 876. In the late 900s-early 1000s, Chartres became one of the most famous schools in Europe under scholar and, eventually, Bishop Fulbert. When the cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1020, he went to work on a design whose remains structure the present building, itself built 1194-1260 after Fulbert's cathedral was destroyed by fire.

These images represent a tiny bit of Chartres Cathedral. For whatever reason, Blogger is refusing to pick up any more at the moment, so I'll try another entry with other windows later.

From the Mary Magdalene Window: Mary Magdalene announces the Resurrection to the Disciples.

From the Peace Window, given by the German Friends of Chartres in 1971.

From the Joseph Window: Pharoah dreams (you can see the cows in this image).


betty said...

loved the windows and the descriptions; I would imagine having a tour with Mr. Miller would be a big highlight; he probably is well versed after being there for so long


Anonymous said...

In the peace window it looks like a small soccer ball in the lower left corner. It's probably a flower, but this soccer mom saw something else. I think I need a new hobby.