Friday, September 30, 2011

the cathedral


As a French major in college, I got very used to studying and talking about art, architecture, literature, and anything else that can be intellectually criticized. So I blame academia for this post--I just can't help myself from giving a little history lesson when I have so many perfect opportunities for it here!

The Cathedral, from across the river

This, again, is the Evreux Cathedral of Notre-Dame. It is one of the largest and oldest in France! Although there was a thorough renovation in the late 1800's for needed restoration throughout the Cathedral, some of the oldest parts of the structure date to the 1100's. During World War II, most of Evreux was badly damaged by bombing, but the Cathedral was one of the only buildings in town that was not hit very hardly, or nearly at all. There is currently exterior work being done to clean the stone fa├žade of the church. It is about 20% finished, and will take quite a while due to the size of the job, but from what has been completed, it looks very nice. Exterior lights were also installed in the past decade, so it is illuminated at night! It's very pretty, and seems to light up the whole town!

The organ in the Cathedral is really beautiful, and quite new. There is an organ festival going on throughout the month of October, with famous organists from around France and the world coming to play this organ. It is one of the treasures of this church!

The main nave and organ

Another important and cool aspect of the Cathedral is its reliquary. Many relics have been acquired or donated to the Cathedral throughout the nearly 15 century history of this diocese. In fact, during the French Revolution, thanks to Evreux's proximity to Paris, many relics were saved from looters and revolutionists and transported to the Cathedral in Evreux, and have remained here ever since! There is a piece of the True Cross in the reliquary, as well as a portion of the skull of St. Matthew!

The reliquary cabinet

This Cathedral is very beautiful, and it is such a blessing to be able to come here every day to pray! I still can't believe that I can call it my church for the year! I just joined the Cathedral's choir, so that will be another mini-adventure in itself. We had our first practice of the year last night, and it was very fun. I'm the youngest member, and the only American...all of the older women were very funny and everyone is very nice  to me. They're going to have to be patient with me as well as I try to learn all of the church songs that they've been singing their whole lives! I'm looking forward to it though :)

One last fun intricacy of the church: I found this little guy the other day. Gargoyles and funny statues like this have 2 purposes for churches. Functionally, they serve as gutter drains, and you can see the holes in their mouths that drain the rain water. The word "gargoyle", appropriately enough, comes from an old French word meaning "throat"! More spiritually, they were meant to scare off bad spirits from the church they were protecting. That is why they sometimes look menacing. I find this one, and his friends around him, rather playful and cute!

My favorite gargoyle :)

pax christi.

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