Monday, 20 March 2017

Le Mans - it's not all about motor racing!

I am returning to French regional topics for a while, before telling you about our holiday in South Africa and Botswana, which was utterly fabulous!  We passed through Le Mans (in the NW France department of the Sarthe) at Christmastime;  the weather was bitterly cold, minus 5 degrees or so and not time for hanging about outside, but we managed to locate the cathedral in the heart of the city, ringed by busy roads and just across a dual carriageway  from a huge cinema and underground car park complex!
Cathédrale St-Julien du Mans is a Catholic cathedral, dedicated in the 9th century to Saint Julien (Julian in English) of Le Mans; he was an evangelist and the city's first bishop, who established Christianity in the area around the beginning of the 4th century. Julien had his own feast day, which was celebrated in England as well for a time, this because the future King Henry II of England was baptised in Le Mans in 1133!

There were earlier buildings on this site, constructed from the 6th century, but this stone building was started in the 10th century. Building continued, in a variety of styles as centuries passed, but work was eventually halted in 1430 with the building incomplete! The cathedral is however notable for, among other things, its rich collection of stained glass and the spectacular bifurcating flying buttresses at its eastern end.
Those spectacular flying buttresses!

Getting closer. Photo distortion is due to the wide angle lens I was using....

Five towers, four of which were Roman, were at one much earlier time distributed along this part of the enclosure walling.   They are presumed to have been demolished in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The beautiful nave, with its stone roof vaulting

A side aisle, generously proportioned. Cathedrale Saint Julien is one of the largest cathedrals in the country.

A glimpse of high level stained glass windows between the soaring sculptured columns.

A side chapel, with hints of winter sun filtering in!

La mise au tombeau is a late 16th century sculpture which cannot be accurately attributed. It was restored in the 1970's and occupies a prominent position in the St Joan of Arc chapel, with more beautiful stained glass windows behind!
This statue, the Great Sepulchure  by local sculptor Gervais Delabarre, showing the Virgin and Apostles, was originally in another local church.

On 20 October 2013 and with the aid of public subscriptions, Goudji's modern sculpture titled Christ in Glory  was installed in the cathedral, 12 metres above the floor, in front of a very large crowd! Born in Georgia, but long naturalised French, Goudji is a world-renowned artist well experienced in the creation of religious pieces.

The cathedral organ has its beginnings in an instrument built between 1529 and 1535.

Also see my daily diary HERE

and My Life Before Charente (updated  25 September 2016) I will get back to this eventually! 

My Life in the Charente 1 you can find here if you want to read the past.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A continuation from My Life in the Charente

For the benefit of new readers, please note that my original blog 'My Life in the Charente' has been up and running since 8 February 2010 until today. (8 March 2017).   Due to the fact that the loading of new blogs has been getting slower and slower,  I have now moved to this new blog address and I hope existing followers will continue to follow me.  First new post on the Charente will be following very soon.
La Rochefoucauld Chateau, Charente.