January 19, 2012
The magnificence – confidence, scale, ‘in yer face’ pomposity – of Chartres cathedral early on a Sunday morning – when admittedly there is little competition. It is breath-taking! The town sleeps – a few at early morning mass – but hopefully a boulangerie and a bar for coffee and croissant!
I seemed to be doing the driving on this trip when the huge building came into view on the journey down and then on the return trip. It’s this first glimpse across the plain that stuns me . . . . so a pic from the web and another in support that sort of shows the scale within the close environment of the medieval town.
A bitterly cold morning and the severity in the climate seems to provide the correct atmosphere. Elegant gestures from the carved figures here . . .
and equally elegance on the fluted edge to the garments of the figures below. The odd hand and nose has gone astray but little matters in the event of what might have happened . . .
Some info from the web: The city suffered heavy damage by bombing in the course of World War II, but the Cathedral of Chartres was spared by an American Army officer who challenged the order to destroy it.]Colonel Welborn Barton Griffith, Jr. questioned the strategy of destroying the cathedral and volunteered to go behind enemy lines to find out whether the German Army was occupying the cathedral and using it as an observation post. With a single enlisted soldier to assist, Col. Griffith proceeded to the cathedral and confirmed the Germans were not using it. After he returned from his reconnaissance, he reported that the cathedral was clear of enemy troops. The order to destroy the cathedral was withdrawn and the Allies later liberated the area. Col. Griffith was killed in action on August 16, 1944 in the town of Leves, near Chartres. Heroic stuff!
Behold! just coming from above,
The judge, with majesty and love!
The sky divides, and rolls away,
T’admit him through the realms of day!
The sun, astonished, hides its face,
The moon and stars with wonder gaze
At Jesu’s bright superior rays!
Dread lightnings flash, and thunders roar,
And shake the earth and briny shore;
The trumpet sounds at heaven’s command,
And pierceth through the sea and land;
The dead in each now hear the voice,
The sinners fear and saints rejoice;
For now the awful hour is come,
When every tenant of the tomb
Must rise, and take his everlasting doom.
Thomas Chatterton On The Last Epiphany (Or Christ Coming To Judgment)