Friday, April 15, 2016

PARIS AND THE CHURCH - PART II


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

PARIS AND THE CHURCH - PART II

St.Sulpice Paris - austere magnificence rather than beauty: here
shown on 9 .9.2009 under restoration - the sheer size of the church
is concealed by the architectural proportions - but note the head of the workman
which appears as a dot above the roofline balustrade to the left of the righthand tower.
The great church of Saint Sulpice is in the Jardin du Luxembourg area of the City of Paris. It faces onto a Place named for the church, which features a large fountain with statues of four ecclesiastics from French history . It is the second largest church in Paris after Notre Dame. Like Notre Dame, Saint Sulpice was desecrated during the insanity of the French Revolution and was designated a" Temple of Victory" for some time.It was built over 140 years commencing in 1646 at the instigation of  Fr. Jean - Jacques Olier a follower of Saint Vincent de Paul . Fr. Olier founded the Society of Saint Sulpice a religious Congregation of Priests educated in a Seminary then attached to the church. 

BISHOP JACQUES BOSSUET -  THE LION OF MEAUX
SAINTLY, SCHOLARLY


In a typically schizophrenic evolution of Parisian society the Jardin du Luxembourg area has become  a centre for many Catholic institutions, whilst Place Saint Sulpice and its fountain have become a focus of radical Left Wing political demonstrations during times of unrest. Two of the famous ecclesiastics featured on the fountain are Bishops Fenelon and Bossuet ( "the Lion of Meaux") who were, for long fiercely opposed in a very public doctrinal argument , which the saintly and orthodox Bossuet won, being vindicated by the Inquisition.  Fenelon, who was twenty four years younger than Bossuet,  acknowledged his errors, and  publicly recanted and held his peace thereafter. However, given this fact it is odd that Fenelon 's statue is the one facing the church and Bishop Bossuet looks off on the left hand face from Fenelon.

THE SANCTUARY - SAINT SULPICE
Saint Sulpice is a church that I love, but even I could not claim for it the description "beautiful". It is magnificent, but austerity, principally engendered by its grey stone work, is its determining characteristic. This remains so, even though the church benefits from a very high degree of natural light from its great windows. The Sanctuary and High Altar are very impressive , though I found the use of old gold fabric in several places , including as an altar cover, excessive and incongruous with the generally austere ambience. The Pulpit is large and impressive, and, as in a number of French churches, it is confronted across the Nave by a large Crucifix, which is obviously intended to concentrate the mind of the preacher in a most appropriate fashion.


YOUR SCRIBE CONTEMPLATES THE SANCTUARY
WHILST STANDING OPPOSITE THE SUPERB PULPIT

DETAIL OF THE HIGH ALTAR FRONTAL



The Organ above the entrance is a very highly-regarded instrument, and on the day we visited in 2009, it was being tuned note by note. As we were about to leave the great church a magnificent note sounding like the siren of a vast ocean liner reverberated through the church - it was truly awesome!

We had the opportunity to look into the Sacristy and to admire the superb cabinet work of the Vestment Presses and drawers.


NATURAL LIGHT ABOUNDS SPOILING THIS PHOTO OF THE BEAUTIFUL CABINET WORK
IN THE VESTMENT PRESSES AND DRAWERS IN THE SACRISTY

Saint Sulpice has had a very rich history. The terrible events of the French Revolution ensured that. There is in the church a memorial to the Carmelite Fathers dragged out of their nearby Monastery and executed during the Revolution. If one needed any further memorial / reminder, when we stayed in the area in 1986 we looked out from a bagwash laundry onto the wall of that same Monastery upon which was a fresh black piece of graffiti calling in French for "Death to the Fathers". It is interesting to note that for a considerable time the renowned Pere Lacordaire was based in the same Monastery whilst preaching at Notre Dame.


MARTYRS MONUMENT
So much of the reality attached to Saint Sulpice is dramatic and significant, that it is pathetic to have to note that it is even woven into the fictional idiocy of the trash novel The Da Vinci Code. 


SPLENDID ARCHITECTURAL DETAIL
SAINT SULPICE, PARIS
All of the above Photos were taken by my Wife Robyn Dixon , God Bless her!

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