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.