Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France
When we visited Paris in October of 2018 we took time to see Sainte-Chapelle and purchased a couple of postcards and a booklet written by the chief heritage curator, Laurence de Finance and issued by Editions du Patrimoine. The booklet and Wikipedia provided information for this post. Today’s postcards are unused, both Editions du Patrimoine. The one above has a David Bordes photograph of the exterior of the Sainte-Chapelle.
Sainte-Chapelle was one of the places I wanted to visit when I was in Paris six years ago with my daughter and grandson. But on that trip we were with a group and although we had some free time we didn’t want to spend all of it waiting in line to get in. There was a line this time too and it was cold outside or seemed cold to us since we had just come from 80 F or 26.6 C in Italy to 40 F or 4.4 C and wind in Paris. Also the security to enter all the museums we visited this time had been significantly increased from six years ago and that resulted in slowing down the lines. If we go to Paris again we will definitely get a city museum pass so we can avoid the long, long ticket lines.
Looking up I noticed what looked like carved figures on the spire . . .
While we were waiting outside in the ticket line we had time to look at the exterior of the church and note some of the details that might have gone unnoticed if we had been able to just walk right in. It is hard to see from the ground but my camera with the extra zoom feature picked up the details on the spire. I especially liked the angels playing music and the archangel at the very top of the spire.
Using the zoom lens on the camera it was possible to see some of the details . . .
An even stronger zoom in view showed angels making music . . .
and an archangel holding a cross perched at the very top of the spire
Almost all the churches have lots of gargoyles like these . . .
but this was the first time to see one up close. This one had been removed and was getting a repair job. It was located right next to the waiting line to get into Sainte Chapelle. When they are doing their job up high on the church it is not possible to see the gargoyle's water channel so this was a fun surprise and explained how they work. The rain water runs down the channel and exits out the gargoyle's mouth.
Interior windows, upper chapel, Sainte Chapelle, Paris, France
This second card has a photograph by Julien Fromentin and shows part of the amazing interior of the upper floor reliquary chapel. From the outside it is impossible to guess at all the windows. From the inside it seems as if the magnificent windows are standing without much support, the light streaming in through all the beautifully decorated glass. The lower chapel was intended for the palace personnel and the upper chapel or royal chapel was where the relics associated with the Passion of Christ were housed.
Lower level chapel
Statue of Saint Louis, King Louis IX
All the windows on both levels have beautiful stained, leaded glass with Biblical scenes
Although the lower level is also quite beautiful, the spectacular upper room is the main attraction at Sainte-Chapelle. It is considered a masterpiece of Rayonnant Gothic architecture. There is a narrow winding staircase going up from the lower level that opens out to this awe-inspiring scene. It takes ones breath away. The ceiling is so high; the windows seem to reach to heaven.
Originally the Crown of Thorns was housed in a silver and copper-gilt reliquary that measured 2.7 meters or 8.9 feet and placed above the altar. Sometime between 1264 and 1267 the Crown was moved to the platform above. I wondered if perhaps it might have been in the long box under the canopy in the photo. Still later successive kings would gift fragments of the crown to various institutions or members of the royal family. Today the remaining pieces are housed in a rock crystal ring that is embellished with gold, gem-stones and enamel and displayed for Christian worship in Notre-Dame cathedral.
Dating from 1485 the Western Rose Window has scenes from the Apocalypse. It measures 9 meters or 29.7 feet in diameter. Only 9 of the 89 window panels have had to be replaced.
The walls and door frames are covered in decorative paintings and Biblical scenes
Closer view of the carved angels holding the Crown of Thorns
Window in the Queen's oratory found in the south wall of the third bay of the nave
King Louis IX of France commissioned the building of this church in 1238 to house his collection of Passion relics that included among others Christ’s Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the True Cross. Completed in 1248 the church was damaged during the French Revolution and later restored in the 19th century. Further restorations have been on going from the 1970s including the cleaning and preserving of all the stained glass begun in 2008. It has one of the largest collections of 13th century stained glass in the world. Since 1862 Sainte Chapelle has been a national historic monument.
For additional information, see:
The Sainte-Chapelle Palais de la Cité by Laurence de Finance, chief heritage curator