Monday, June 6, 2011

A Medieval Library in Glass

On the last day of Betsy and Linda's stay in Paris, we took a train to Chartres to see the Our Lady of Chartres Cathedral, said to be one of the most magnificent Gothic cathedrals in Europe, renowned for it's hundreds of stained glass windows. It was very moving to stand in this place that has survived so much assault and weathered the ravages of time. (my little Chartres homage below)

Our brilliant and entertaining British gentleman tour guide is a scholar and author on Gothic cathedrals. He likened the windows of Chartes to books in a public library; They are full of history, symbols, theology, stories from the Bible, and biographies of the saints; But instead of text, they are encoded in beautiful jewel-toned stained glass. Like eager children, we craned our necks gazing up at the windows as he unlocked these stories for us.

This Cathedral has it's own remarkable story of surviving adversity. After a fire destroyed much of it in the 1100's, it was attacked and defaced again in the 1600's at the hand of anti-religious during the French revolution. Finally in 1939, when France went to war against Germany, all of the windows were removed and shipped to a hiding place in the south of France to escape air raids. She stands triumphant today - offering her stories and wisdom to all who enter.

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Location:Chartres, France

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