Saturday, October 27, 2012

A church built by the Paysan

Our first day in the Dordogne was spent near our Bed and Breakfast.  It was time for laundry, organizing etc.  By now we had been in country for almost 4 weeks and both were past due.  During the day, I visited the "Fortified Church" on the grounds of the Monastery where we were staying.  I learned why it was called a Fortified Church...a term I had never heard of before.  As you look at the external building in the image above, you can see the small portholes in the towers both front and back. At the time this church was built, gunpowder was not yet in use.  These were portholes built for Archers...Archers that protected the church and the village inhabitants from marauding outsiders who may decide they wanted the villagers food or belongings.

I also noticed a stark difference in these churches in the countryside from the High Gothic Cathedrals we had explored up to now.  These were churches built not by the kings's architects or experienced stone masons...they were churches built by the paysans for the paysans.  Much simpler in form and size and also much darker inside.  You can see the very small windows in the church above...again, this was built before the Gothic Cathedrals with high walls and huge stained glass windows.  That "technology" had not yet been developed.

As I walked in the church, I was immediately struck by the darkness.  In order to be able to take pictures, I propped open the large door at the entrance.  The light streaming in cast long shadows against the walls.  This obscure lighting added to the medieval atmosphere.

As I walked down the main aisle to get a picture of the main altar...I had quite a shock!  There was a statue of the Blessed Virgin placed prominently in the front of the Altar area.  Dark as it was, I walked slowly by the staute.  As I passed by her however, I saw the light...literally!  The statue had a modern touch obviously added after the medieval period...A Motion Detector.  After an initial "click" her halo of several bright light bulbs lit in unison!  I am sure it was well intentioned but it was a bit over the top for me.  It scared me when they came on suddenly  and I almost dropped my left my hands and after some quite acrobatic maneuvers of multiple grasps...I caught it right before it hit the solid marble floor.  But as usual, The Blessed Virgin's nicer side shown through and she posed for me long enough with her lighted Halo to be forever imbedded on my camera's sensor...(see above).



DawnTreader said...

Modern miracles, eh? ;)
Seems you've caught the atmosphere in the old church very well.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

I'm an atheist but I do enjoy the majesty of religious architecture.

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