Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Other Modern: Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Trinité, Blois, France

When the photos of the recent ordinations for the Communauté Saint-Martin came in, I took note of the indirect views we were being given of the basilica church itself, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Trinité which is located in Blois, France.

My immediate thought was that it was a very likely inclusion in our Other Modern series, in some or possibly many respects. I took to looking up the basilica and while there are some aspects which I think we can critically consider -- for example, some of the sculptural within the church might be critiqued for being overly primitivistic in style in my own estimation -- in many regards, and overall as a church, it is most definitely worth noting as another type of manifestation of the other modern.

First, a bit about the history and art of the church. Construction on the church begin in 1932 and resumed in 1935 under the architect, Paul Rouvière. The church itself was consecrated in 1949 and in 1956, Pope Pius XII elevated it to the status of a basilica.

Fourteen large stained glass windows are found along the nave which illustrate the role of Mary in salvation history. These windows were the work of Louis and Jean Barrel Le Chevallier.

Within the apse is mosaic work which depicts the coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (And the apse mosaic is what I, myself, find particularly striking.)

One will note here the very traditional arrangement

Sculptural work on the facade; while this is, in my estimation, a bit primitivistic, it is nice that a monumental sculptural detail was included on the facade, as well as on the pillars, as opposed to taking a more minimalist approach.

The apse mosaic

A detail from the apse mosaic

Stained Glass window detail

Here are two details I pulled from the background of some of the photos from the recent ordinations at the basilica. I would note that these are taken at odd angles and the colouring is likely quite off since these were in the background. However, I think they are still worth showing to conclude our consideration.

David Clayton once noted a quite simple criteria as a first consideration for sacred art which I took to; it was the question, "can you pray before it?". It is not the only criteria of course, but it is an important first consideration. In regards to sacred architecture we could add the question, does it inspire you to pray within it? I think in the case of this basilica, while there are particular aspects I believe could be approached better, I believe the general answer is most certainly, yes.

Further to that, the visible marks of continuity with our tradition of liturgical and ecclesiastical art and architecture are most certainly to be found here.


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