Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday 9 July

~  A bottle of Ch'ti  beer, chilled.  It has a champagne-type wired cork, which explodes from it vehemently; it doesn't foam, but a mist rises from its pebbly brown glass rim.

~  Tom waters the garden with the hose.  A blue tit flies down onto the white Winchester Cathedral rosebush and hangs from its stems and leaves, drinking the droplets.

~


~  Saints' motifs and emblems, from the windows of the monastic chapel at Pontmain.  The cock, the two fish together and the keys are St Peter's, the dove and the upright fish are with St Francis, the dove held in his hands.  I forget who had the little beehive cell like an igloo. 

(I can't find any very useful links about Pontmain as a place; most of the available information about it, both on-line and at the place itself, concerns the story of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to a group of children there in the 19th century, which led to it becoming a shrine nearly as important as Lourdes, apparently, rather than the resulting 20th century art and architecture there.  It's in the Mayenne, near where my brother lives.)

5 comments:

Dale said...

Wow, what a wonderful window.

Jan said...

Wonderful images.

Isabelle said...

Oh, I want it! It would look great in my dining room. Yearn...

Painting your toenails different colours! Waxing your legs! I hadn't realised that you were so glamorous! Hmm, have to change my image of you...

Setu said...

Mmm, sipping a good chilled beer (with cool condensation drops on the glass) was a delight in such weather… Ch’ti is not bad, but I had a Czech Pilsner Urquell.
The beehive symbol is generally used for St Bernard. “Ora et labora” (“Pray and Work”): what else could represent working monks than busy bees? This symbol can be found for St Ambrose or St John Chrysostom too.
I must say that I don’t like very much the architecture of the basilica of Pontmain, although the stained-glass window you photographed has beautiful colours. I’m a bit skeptical about the apparition of the Virgin Mary in that site… It took place when Clericalists and Monarchists thought they could take the opportunity of a troubled period to restore a new “moral order” and get rid of Republican secularism. When the 2nd Empire collapsed, France was not far from a Royalist restoration supported by the Catholic Church. No wonder that the apparition took place in W Mayenne, a former stronghold of Chouans…

Lucy said...

Thanks.

It wasn't one window, but a collage of different elements of several.

Setu - as ever, you awe me with your knowledge. I don't think the beehive belonged to any of those saints, though St Bernard might have figured. I should have made a more careful record of all the windows, as there is lettering on each of them to say who is who. I imagine we'll go back some time. The glass in the photo is from the monk's chapel behind the basilica. What struck us was the contrast. The basilica is all feminine blue and gold froth, stars, that weird red cross. I rather liked the way you walk into a total bath of blue light, but it's the kind of very sugary, very sentimental, emotive catholic stuff which I'm afraid I react rather viscerally against. In its earlier form I associate it with the counter-reformation, in its late 19th/early 2oth c. incarnation it doesn't surprise me to learn it was a kind of counter-republican equivalent... there are plenty of oversized, over-reached church buildings in these parts from a similar period. The monastic chapel was apparently the vision of one artist/architect mid 20th century, and it is strange, harsh, stylised and quite brutal, the complete antithesis of the basilica in fact, concrete and rough-cut glass, very dark and yellowish light, odd, low, egg-shaped arches, and the faces and hands of the saints and patriarchs are not at all kind and forgiving - Abraham looks like a total psycho!

But I'm often aware when visiting churches and other ecclesiastical buildings all over France, how difficult it is to find any information about the art and architecture. All the info and literature on offer is about the Catholic church in general and the building as a place of worship; even in Chartres there was a strong bias in the cathedral shop towards this, less about the history and art of the place in itself. It's as though the church is holding on to the churches here as bastions, and won't let them become places of secular interest.

I've an American Christian friend who knows Italy well, who said she found it quite refreshing to go into an old church in Paris and just be quiet and pray and not have it pushed at her as a tourist attraction or museum. But for me as a kind of secular Anglican protestant with a small 'p', from a background where we cherish our churches as part of the landscape and culture without actually using them for their original purpose, it seems a bit strange and perverse...