Rhapsodies in Stained Glass

As my six weeks in Europe began, so they ended: in Paris. So we’re ending our photo-tour with a display of something that captivated me and reminded me of many of the good achievements of European civilization. (There are, after all, a few…however far we’ve strayed from some of the higher aspirations of our earlier thinkers and researchers.) I approached churches on this trip much as I approached the temples I visited around Asia: with interest, with respect for the beliefs of those who visited them and also a strong protective distance from the rich institutionalized religious orders to which they often belong. As artistic achievements, so many of the churches in Europe truly are spectacular…as in other parts of the world, it seems religion is able to call forth some of humankinds most beautiful impulses (in this case, artistic) – not just our most angry and base. Trivial fact: this church, and I think other national-monument-level churches around France (e.g. Chartres, probably Notre Dame as well) is physically owned and maintained or restored by the French state. Religious services and religious workers attached to it, naturally, belong (argue the verb if you wish) to the Vatican. Made it easier for me to pay admission, knowing it went to the state; I simply hope the church isn’t profiting too much by my visit in any other way.

Above: a small portion of the glory of Sainte Chapelle (only the second tourist draw on Ile de la Cite, a tiny island that also houses the more famous Notre Dame de Paris), which in addition to many small rose windows on the ground floor also boasts two entire walls, more than 100 meters long I suspect, like this; below: two of the smaller ground-floor rose windows at Sainte Chapelle.

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