Sunday, June 13, 2010

We visited churches in France

In the town of Rosheim, France, we came upon the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. This church had its beginnings in the years 1145-1167. It is built in the Romanesque art. Way up on top of the roof, sat this man. We managed to pull it in quite nicely with the zoom lens. Although legend says that this man and the one of the North side represent the count and the hermit, it seems they portray the material and spiritual side of life. The one on the southern side with the short tunic and something in his hand personified the life of labor. The monk reminds us that man cannot suffice unto himself but must lift his soul to God.

In the town of St. Nectaire, stands the Eglise St. Nectaire constructed around 1160. The name St. Nectaire is also given to a well-known cheese and has been produced for centuries in this area.

In the town of Vic-Le-Comte, we found the most ornate church in the region. The Sainte-Chapelle has richly colored stained glass dating back to the 15th century.

In the town of Brioude, same town where the lace school was, we found the Basilique St. Julien. It is the largest Romanesque church in the area. Building began in 1060 and was completed in 1180. Much was rebuilt including the square bell tower in the 19th century. Unfortunately, we do not have pictures of the inside. You see, for the second time in our travels, the church we really wanted to see was in the process of a funeral service.

We slipped into the back pews and listened to the most beautiful signing by a priest. In fact, we were able to make a video of some of the singing, and it is beautiful. We quickly slipped out before the services were over.

The last time we entered a funeral, we were in Munich, Germany. I believe it was St. Michael's church. This church was full of mourners and the singing was so beautiful. We also got a video of part of that.

There was only one other church at the top of our list and though The Trout had done much research on this church, we missed one small detail, thus, no pictures of this church.

We traveled west of Clermont-Ferrand, into the mountains, searching for the town of Orcival and the Basilique Notre-Dame. It was erected during the first half of the 12th century and was founded by the monks from La Chaise-Dieu.

The day was cold and rainy, and we drove through fog, snow showers and a deer running across the road. As we reached the town, we started seeing cars all over the place. They were parked on both side of the road. We were surprised as this town only has a population of 244. As we drove and could see the town down in a valley to the right of us, hundreds and hundreds of people were walking into the town. They were coming from above the town, the other side of the valley. Then we saw policemen directing traffic. My thought was "can this be the biggest garage sale in France?" The Trout, being more realistic wondered if it was the Second Coming. There must have been at least 500 cars.

We knew there was no way we could park and see the church because we would have to walk miles to get to the church. We passed by and kept driving, and more and more cars were parked on the road and people walking. So, what was going on?

We knew there were several holidays in France during May. Since this is usually our month of travel, we have become accustomed to this. However, Ascension day, 40 days after Easter is not celebrated in America as it is in France. And yes, we arrived on Ascension day, in the town of Orcival which must have the largest pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin Mary, next to the Pope visiting Fatima in Portugal. It was an experience we will not forget, even though we did not get to see the church.


  1. These photos are wonderful. I love all of the detail in the stained glass.

  2. Great post, Susan. I love the churches in France and am always amazed at their age and incredible detail.

  3. Susan, great photos and the stained glass is so beautiful! The old churches in Europe are amazing and it's interesting with your being there on Ascension Day. We stayed in a hotel in Stuttgart next to a church whose many bells rang loudly every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. It was incredible and I wish I remembered the name of the church.

  4. Sort of puts into perspective just how "young" the US is when you see photos like these. Wonderful photos of wonderful churches. The stained glass is amazing.


  5. Beautiful pictures and an interesting tale about your trip. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Beautiful Susan. All of it.

  7. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Susan, as you usual, you present your experiences so well. One of the things that I have always enjoyed in my travels through Europe was the visit to see the churches. I am surprised, though, that so many French people would be observing a religious holiday. At one time that country was very oriented toward the Catholic religion but I understand that most of the French people are pretty secular and not interested in any kind of religion. Just wait, if that is true. The Muslims are gaining a toehold there as they were never able to do when they tried to do centuries ago. They nearly conquered Spain at one time. They left behind a wonderful legacy of architecture in southern Spain, of course.