When visiting Sainte Chapelle in Paris, I wasn’t able to see all of the stained glass because a giant curtain hung across several windows that were being cleaned. The 360 degree views of the chapel and the description of its decorations are interesting because they show just how much detail was put into the windows, the wall decoration, and the arches. It’s nice to reflect on a time when there was meaning behind each detail of decoration, rather than the decoration of today that is used primarily for aesthetic pleasure.
The ceilings in the upper level of Sainte Chapelle are vast. The stained glass windows do not cover the wall in its entirety, but begin rather high above eye level. They so detailed that it is difficult to determine what the images are. They draw eyes upward toward heaven and God. While I was visiting Sainte Chapelle, half of the uncovered windows had already been cleaned. The light that came in through the cleaned windows was brilliant and the colors were radiant as they shined into the room.
The walls are decorated with fleur-de-lis and Castilian castles to represent Saint Louis and his mother Blanche de Castille. The gold that surrounds them adds an extra touch of richness to the building that houses relics from the crucifixion of Jesus. These decorations were completed later as restorations intended to honor the original builders of the chapel.
Although the renovations were created partly to honor men who have passed from Earth, the windows were created to honor God. They give the worshippers a taste of what God’s glory is like and bring them to a place that they cannot be in ordinary life. It gives a heightened sense of being in the presence of something holy, for every day buildings do not have immense stained glass windows emitting colored light and glistening like the jewels of heaven. Even the bottom part of the windows is so high that it is almost twice as high as a tall person’s eye level, while the very top windows are too high to make out clearly, even in the panoramic pictures of the chapel.
The windows at Sainte Chapelle were constructed as a gift to God. Man cannot see the careful details of them because they are too high. However, the architects and workmen crafted them carefully to decorate the space that holds the Lord’s relics and honor the God who gave them their artistic abilities. Sainte Chapelle is a testament to how much they honored God and how much they appreciated what had been given to them.
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