Royal Chapel: Château de Versailles!

This is an odd day very busy going around preparing for Christmas 2018, which by the way Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers of my blog even if a bit late… I had to do it all with my boys in tow preparing and having my father get involved helping too for the dinner preparation. And what inspiration I took from all that well a special place for me on a special city .

I came first to the Château de Versailles back in 1990 and was like any tourist hurry up to see all in one day.  I had the my family, my parents, and wife’s grandmother with us. The first couple of trips were like this, then they were more routine until finally came to live here in 2003. I took this place as my own, for many reasons not tourist inclined. I like to tell you a bit more of the Royal Chapel of the Château de Versailles.

Versailles

The Royal Chapel of the Château de Versailles is a palatial Chapel near the corner of the king’s Grands apartment and the north wing (aile nord). The present Chapel was completed and blessed in 1710, after a construction period that lasted for many years, a first draft of the project dating in fact from 1687. The definitive Royal Chapel, was preceded by four successive shrines, made in various locations of the palace. The chapels formed the place in which the daily activities of the Court were held during the Monarchies.

A bit of history I like

From 1663, a first confined sanctuary was lodged in the northeast of the castle in the stalled pavilion, at the location of the current cabine doré of Madame Adelaide; The expansion of the castle subsequently took place at the chapel, which was moved in 1670 to the south, at the site of the present Queen’s guard room (Salle des Gardes de la Reine).   Two years later, in 1672, a new chapel was installed at the site of the present hall called the coronation (salle dite du Sacre). It was blessed on November 3, 1672 and had an area of nearly 250 m2.

In 1682, the court settled in Versailles. The project of Le Brun is then abandoned. The wing of the South (l’aile du Midi) was built and the chapel was fixed at a temporary location in the north, against the Tethys Cave (grotte de Téthys ). A large cross was placed at the top of the roof, designating the function of the place. The space allotted to the musicians, in the tribune of the first floor, was fully integrated into the chapel. Two secondary altars were placed on the ground floor, one dedicated to St. Louis, the second to St. Theresa, patron saints of the royal couple. A third altar was set up in the rostrum, adorned with a painting of Cortona stone from the royal collections.

On this occasion, a permanent service of the Royal Chapel was instituted. king Louis XIV entrusted her to a community of Mission Fathers-also called Lazarist-Sons of Saint Vincent de Paul, who were housed in the castle. Conceived as provisional, the chapel of 1682 was used for 28 years; As a result, it is the most frequented building by Louis XIV. Important ceremonies took place, such as the great receptions in the order of the Holy Spirit in 1688-1689 or the marriage of the Duke of Burgundy in 1697.

The definitive location of the Royal Chapel was found in 1687. The plan of the building was barlong, with an initially rectangular bedside. The Chapel had two levels,on the first floor, a tribune reserved for the king, facing the altar, bordered the entire nave. The Royal Chapel was preceded by two superimposed vestibules, which gave access to the north wing (l’aile nord). The Royal Chapel was first designed not to exceed the height of the roofs of the rest of the palace. But from January 1689 the building was significantly higher. On June 5, 1710, the Royal Chapel was blessed by the Cardinal Noailles, Archbishop of Paris.

The sculptures was in the service of architecture. Originally, a large royal crown on a cushion and a mat-all in lead-was to be placed at the top. But finally, a lantern of nearly 12 meters high, surmounted by a Cross, overcame the edifice. The ridge of the roof of the chapel rises to 38 meters (43 meters from the lower court of the chapel) and is dominated by a cross at its eastern end.. On the ridge of the roof, there are two groups of three lead angels. These angels, originally gilded, measure 210 cm. The first group carries the fins, symbol of the hope of the resurrection; The second supports the Cross. The roof is also adorned with motifs, landforms and round-bumps in lead, once gilded. Representing the fleurs-de-lys, tussock, florets and palmettes, a torus of chopsticks, branches of rotating fins, consoles and double-consoles, campanes and cherubim, friezes of posts, Royal crowns, cartridges and pellets, they were performed by the artists who worked in the lantern.

In 1705, twenty-eight statues of apostles and evangelists, fathers of the Church and allegories of Catholic virtues were arranged on the outer balustrade. Evoking the great achievements of Baroque Rome, this ensemble is animated by a powerful and innovative breath. The iconographic programme originally provided for thirty-four figures: The Four Evangelists, the Twelve Apostles, the four fathers of the Latin church, the four fathers of the Greek Church, eight virtues and the patrons of the French monarchy: Saint Louis and Saint Charlemagne. The last two figures and four virtues were suppressed. So 28 statues of the outer balustrade are today.   In order to obtain a vast unified space that can receive a painted vault; the designed in 1707 traces an ensemble programme, centered on the representation of the life of Christ and, at the vaults of the rostrum, on that of the Apotheosiss of the Twelve Apostles. The Great Vault shows the resurrection, in the cul-de-furnace of the apse. The central part of the vault an imaginary edifice, pierced by three openings to the sky. In the center is represented God the Father in His glory, on both sides are depicted angels bearing the instruments of Passion.. The realization of the Twelve Apostles a concert of angels singing the dominion, in the axis of the chapel, above the organ buffet. The sculpture is especially visible inside the building, in the reliefs that animate the walls. In the nave, also begun in 1708, each pillar is adorned with a relief evoking an episode of the Passion.

The interior decorations:

A column ordinance was created on the first floor of the Royal Chapel, integrating into this process of raising the building, to which it brought lightness and strength. On the ground floor, on the other hand, pillars were used. . The marble pavement was undertaken in 1708, according to a pattern which seems to reflect that of a vault still supported by double arcs: a orthonormal weft defined by black strips supported by white, in which take place of the compartments of symmetrically distributed geometric shapes. The balustrade of the rostrum, originally slated in marble, was provided with gilded bronze balusters laid on plinths and supporting handrails made of Serravezza marble. At the same level, two cubicles or lanterns were added on either side of the Royal Tribune. Rock-inspired furniture remains only the altars and the organ, designed specifically for the building and become buildings by destination. The master altar was placed in the arcade of the sanctuary, completely obscured by the glory of the altarpiece. The ensemble was made of gilded bronze in 1709-1710. The bas-relief of the lamentation of the Dead Christ, a masterpiece of the art of French bronze, was placed in antependium. It is in a way the culmination of the cycle of Passion carved to the pillars of the nave and the sanctuary.

Versailles

The nine other altars of the Royal Chapel were consecrated to the Holy Sacrament, to the Holy Virgin and to the principal patron saints of the Royal family: St. Louis, St. Anne, St. Theresa, Saint Philip, Saint Charles, Sainte Victoria and Saint Adelaide. Four altars were surmounted by painted altarpieces.

Versailles

The organ buffet, designed and sculpted in 1710, shows chubby cherubs, the favourite theme of the next generation, around a bas-relief depicting King David playing the harp. Normally placed above the entrance, it is here exceptionally above the altar to which the courtiers turned their backs to face the king, whose prayer-God occupies the place traditionally reserved for organs: on the first floor, facing the altar.

Versailles

What you have today:

The Royal Chapel is placed under the word Saint Louis. This ancestor of Louis XIV, his patron Saint and his model, built the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, an architectural reliquary designed to contain the crown of thorns. The Parisian monument will serve as a model for religious architecture. The Royal Chapel of Louis XIV is inspired by it. Respected as such, it is today the most authentic part of the castle because it was spared by the revolution (only the Fleurs-de-lys, at the base of the columns on the first floor, were smashed) and excluded from the restructuring of the 19C. Since June 2017, the exterior of the chapel, very degraded after three centuries, is the subject of a campaign of restauration. The first instalment concerns the cover and framing, the lead ornaments, the sculpted statues and decorations, the stained glass windows and the upper floors. It will last from 2017 to 2020. The statues are the subject of an adoption campaign.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Chateau de Versailles on the Royal Chapel

Visual Video of the Royal Chapel on the Château de Versailles webpage: http://www.chapelle.chateauversailles.fr/

It is a masterpiece and a must room to see in the must to see Palace Museum of Versailles to be enjoy by all for generations more. Versailles is Royal.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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