Being on holiday does funny things to you. I could have sworn that I wrote about Ste. Chapelle while we in Paris, but when I went to find the piece it wasn’t there. Grams says it’s age. I say phooey! It’s jet lag. We have been back about 5 days and I finally slept through the night last night.
As to Ste. Chapelle, it is the gem of Paris. I don’t have the patience for the long lines at Notre Dame and, frankly, I think that Ste. Chapelle is far more beautiful.
Ste. Chapelle was built by King Louis IX in 1248. It seems that on his way back from the Crusades there was a guy by the side of the road who said, “Hey, Louie, wanna buy some relics?” I think that his progeny now sell “authentic” Louis Vuitton bags in lower Manhattan. I say this because it seems as if the “true” cross (one of Louis’ scores) must have been a skyscraper because you can find pieces of it all over Europe (Grams says that I am being too cynical, who knows). Anyway, Louis loaded up on relics, including the crown of thorns. As a matter of fact he spent 3/4 of the French treasury at the Relic Store on the road home from Jerusalem.
Well, when Louis got home he thought, “I can’t just have these relics lying around, I have to build a safe place to put it in and then take the relics out on holy days.” So, Louis spent the last 1/4 of the treasury to build Ste. Chapelle. The chapel itself is a series of 15 stained glass windows with a Rose window over the entrance. The windows are at least 2 stories high and the Rose window covers the entire width above the entrance.
We can only imagine what it must have looked like in the 13th century because during the French revolution everything of value was stripped off the walls. What are left are the tombs in the floor and the magnificent stained glass windows. The windows tell the stories of the Bible from Genesis through the Apocalypse. During the revolution this chapel was turned into a wine cellar. Notre Dame was a wine shop. Mon Dieu!
The French have gone a long way to redress these excesses. Ste. Chapelle and Notre Dame are now very carefully maintained. The treasures are long gone from Ste. Chapelle’s treasury, but the treasure that Louis created is still there for us all to enjoy.
Here are some tips: Go on a sunny day in the mid-morning. That way the sun shining through the windows is glorious. You have to go through the dismal downstairs now (gift shop area) and can no longer see the outside of the wonderfully carved doors to the chapel, c’est la vie. Just don’t spend too much time downstairs. The glory is on the 2nd floor. And don’t forget to look down, there carved marble tombs of many saints and clergy are right under your feet.
By the way, I made up the story about the guy at side of road. Yeah, you knew that.
A la Prochaine. Moochas smoochas,
Please give what you can to Medecins sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders)