The Basilica of Albert!!!

And do stay in the north of my belle France, the real thing, and wonderful things to see around here, close to family territory.  I have done posts on the region briefs and have come back with more on their main things to see me think. I take you now to Albert and the Basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres . It is the basilica of Albert and could be at least one of the Basilica’s of France for its history and meaning.

The wonderful Basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres built from 1885 to 1895 in neo byzantine style, and connects to the museum of  Somme 1916. See that post

The Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Brebières was one of the high places of Marian worship in Picardy since the 11-12C. At the end of the 19C, the pilgrimage experienced a revival of fervor with all of Marian devotion. In 1895, at the time of its new inauguration, Pope Leo XIII conferred the honorary title of Minor Basilica on the new church. He specified in his papal bull his ambition for the basilica: “Albert would have to become the Lourdes of the North”. The bell tower-porch, 76 meters high, was surmounted by a dome carrying a golden statue of the Virgin which culminates in 82 meters. Albert’s basilica was completely destroyed during WWI ( Great War) . Just on the south side of the basilica is the entrance to the Somme 1916 Museum. As part of the ceremonies commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, American singer Barbara Hendricks gave a Peace Concert accompanied by the Orchestra de Picardie, on Friday July 1, 2016 at 22h at the Basilica Notre Dame of Brébiéres in Albert.

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A bit on the construction which is unique me think

The main facade is formed by a porch with three gates located under the bell tower. The floor and the facade are decorated with mosaics. The bell tower-porch rises to 76 meters. Its upper part is made up of a dome carrying a virgin covered with 40,000 gold sheets, six meters high presenting the Child Jesus: the child’s arms form a cross. An outdoor gallery located sixty meters above the ground allows you to go around the bell tower and offers a remarkable view of the city and its surroundings. The plan of the basilica recalls that of the first Christian basilicas with a large apse formed by an elevated chapel and framed by two apsidioles leaning on both sides on the transept also finished in the north and in the south by two apsidioles . The transept crossing is surmounted by a small quadrangular lantern tower. A five-span nave flanked by two side aisles extends the basilica. Each of the spans communicates with the collaterals which open on each side into five chapels. A decorated frame and a coffered ceiling replace the traditional vaults. The length of the building is 70 meters, its width is 35 meters at the transept. The ceiling height is 23 meters. The tribune organ inaugurated in 1901; the organs were completely destroyed. They were replaced, in 1958. The Choir organ was installed in the basilica at the same time as the tribune organ.

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And the event that the world remembers, and me too. Here is the story.

On October 22, 1914, a first shell hit the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres. Unintentionally perhaps, because from a strategic point of view the Basilica offers the enemy a landmark for the regulation of artillery fire that destroys industry, the railway and improvised hospitals in schools and boarding schools. Three other shells still hit the Basilica across the bell tower right through without causing irreparable damage. Two others crush the central skylight, the debris of which crashes on the high altar. A quarter of the roof is destroyed. On January 7, 1915, a shell burst the dome and the vaults collapsed. Having achieved its objectives, the enemy then targets the Basilica. On January 14 and 15, 1915 about 43 shells fell on the basilica!.

On January 15, in the afternoon, around 15h the dome shatters, and shortly after the bronze statue of the Virgin and Child Jesus, 7 meters high, surmounting the bell tower of the Basilica of Notre Dame de Brebières , bows. Later in the evening, under the effect of the storm, it positioned itself horizontally. The frame yields without completely breaking. The Virgin finds herself suspended above the void, directed towards the south. Seeing this leaning Virgin, the soldiers imagine a legend: “When the Virgin falls, the war will end”. On March 26, 1918, Albert fell back into German hands. What remains of the bell tower of the Basilica becomes an observation post for the occupier, which must be destroyed to take back the city. On April 16, 1918, around 15h30, on the third attempt, the British artillery hit the steeple and the Virgin collapsed. We are in 1918 the Virgin falls and the same year the war will end. The legend is “respected”. Indeed wonderful story!!!

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Ministry of Culture of France on the Basilica in French: Ministry of Culture of France on the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres

Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on the Basilica in French: Tourist office of the Somme dept 80 on the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres

I have the city of Albert on public transports as train passes by here from Paris to from Lille. City of Albert on public transportation

There you go another gem ,this time in the north or Hauts de France, old Picardie region. Albert has a lot of punch and thanks to the Basilica Notre Dame de Brébiéres. Hope you enjoy the post and do come to visit it, its another must around this region.

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

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