Sainte-Chapelle: Beauty that Transcends – EpicPew

Sainte-Chapelle: Beauty that Transcends

Beauty is all around us, and though we may differ on whether or not a specific painting or statue or another artistic rendering is beautiful, beauty in and of itself is transcendental. Fr. Robert Spitzer defines transcendental as a “property of being” or in simpler terms, something that exists in every human person. Each of us longs for and searches for beauty. 

This is why colorful sunsets, masterful symphonies, and magnificent newborns bring tears to our eyes. Beauty, among the other transcendentals of truth, love, goodness, and home/being, pierces our soul and points to something more radiant: God. That all being said, I want to introduce you to—or maybe remind you of—a beautiful church, which efficiently employs every corner and crevice to point toward the Divine. 

Sainte-Chapelle, or Holy Chapel, was commissioned by King Louis IX (aka St. Louis) and consecrated in 1248. Below are 7 other facts about this masterpiece. 

There are two floors: an upper chapel and a lower chapel. The lower chapel was a place of worship for the palace staff and the King’s household. The upper chapel is where the stained glass can be found and was exclusively for the royal family and their guests. 

There are more than 1,100 bible scenes depicted throughout the 15 stained glass windows. Of those, 720 are originals. 

The Rose window was added in the late 15th century. The stained glass depicts the Book of Revelation, depicting Christ returning in glory at the center.

Sainte Chapelle housed St. Louis’ most prized relics, notably the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the True Cross. One stained glass window specifically shows the king receiving these two relics.The crown of thorns now resides at Notre-Dame de Paris. 

After St. Louis’ death, the chapel fell into disuse. First, it was ransacked during the French Revolution, then used as a storehouse for grain. From there, it became a legal archive, which blocked the stained glass with filing cabinets.

During the 1830s, author Victor Hugo and other French scholars led plans to renovate and restore Sainte-Chapelle to her former glory.

The nave is encircled by statues of the 12 apostles, of these, 6 are originals. There are two small alcoves set into the walls, one on the North end and one on the South, each adorned with a sculpture of angels; this is where the King and Queen would worship during religious services.  

Hopefully these teasers have inspired you to add this intricate church to your bucket list!

Featured Image: Pixabay. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.