Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sainte Elisabeth

This post is both the fulfillment of a promise and an opportunity to share with you a few pictures of the interior of my local church, Sainte Elisabeth de Hongrie.

Sometimes I am asked (or I offer) to light candles at church.  This practice of putting votive candles around the statues of saints or the Virgin has been around for centuries.  Some say it started with the early Christians who put candles in front of the tombs of the martyrs in the catacombs.   It's still around and for me it represents a prayer that continues long after I've left the church and made my way back home.

May is Mary's month and a week ago the Portuguese community held a celebration in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.  They decorated our statue of Mary with all kinds of white flowers like roses and hydrangeas and carried it in a procession around the church.  Days later the roses still smell wonderful.  I lit my candles and here is the picture I promised to post.


While I had my camera in hand I took a few more pictures.  This church was built in 1850 in honor of Madame Elisabeth, a sister of Louis XVI, who had a property in Petit Montreuil.  Her former house and garden are a public park.   There is an exhibition, in fact, going on right now called Madame Elisabeth:  Une princesse du destin tragique (she was guillotined during the Terror).  Something to see if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

The church is located in the quarter that we call Chantiers today.  Easy to pass by without a second look because the outside is nothing special.  The inside, however, is something else again.


You can find more (and better) pictures and a description of the different architectural features and artwork that grace the interior here.  That magnificent painting, Sainte Elisabeth, le miracle des roses, is by Paul-Hippolyte Flandrin.  All that we see today when we walk through the doors is the result of a grand restoration project that took place in 2009/2010.

As a parishioner I can tell you what I love about it:  The wood which makes it warm and welcoming, the colors (blue and peach and white), and the light - there are skylights in the chapel and just in front of  Flandrin's painting.  But, most of all, it's a small church which makes it less impressive, perhaps, than the cathedral.  However, it's not about "shock and awe" - it's a space à taille humaine and this human is very happy to spend a portion of her week within its walls.

4 comments:

Rosy the Riveter said...

Beautiful pictures, Victoria. This blog is much more than a sounding board for disgusted "US Persons". It's so nice to read the variety of lovely things - your outings, gardening, reading...- that you share with us !

mariemags said...

Thank you oh thank you, beautiful †

and that wonderful ceiling. I just Love the smell of the wood and insence combined in all churches. We have a similiar Mary statue in our sister church which has just been restored, and now her Mary blue dress has a gold leaf print. On the day the children laid flowers at her feet, we re-crowned her with her golden crown. Miracles mother x

Sally said...

For more on Sainte Elisatbeth (Heilige Elisabeth) , you have to come to Germany.
She spent most of her life at the Wartburg in Eisenach. She went there to live at age 4, when she was betrothed to the landgrave.

But closest to my heart is the pilgramage church Elisabethkirche in Marburg, built at her grave shortly after she was canonized. It is the first Gothic church built in Germany.
The video here (http://www.elisabethkirche.de/The-Elizabeth-Church.405+M52087573ab0.0.html) is narrated in German, but gives a nice overview of the church, including the artwork depicting her life and good works (including the story of the roses and leper turned to Christ in the marriage bed.)

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi Rosy. Thank you. I was serious when I said "fun" is the goal here. :-)

@mariemags, You're very welcome. It's really lovely and has very nice people too. Pax vobis.

@Sally, What an incredible church. I wonder if there are any trains from Versailles to Marburg? Thank you for sharing the link. I haven't been to Germany in awhile - time for a visit, I think.