Monday, September 25, 2006

Replicating Reims Cathedral

It was already sweltering hot when we four students piled into a jeep-like vehicle to visit the Reims Cathedral of the East. This impressive structure was built in 1894 by a French jesuit priest. He had wanted to built a church in the small village of Idaikattur in Tamil Nadu, but lacked the funds. And so, he went home to France for funding and found a protestant woman who had been miraculously cured of a heart ailment after praying to the Sacred Heart. She donated 2000 francs, which allowed the kindly French father to return to India to build his majestic cathedral, and in doing so encroach on a large section of the villagers land.

The villagers protested, but the Father had already laid the foundation, and refused to change his plans. The peasants took their case to court, and tried to prevent the building of the church. Though the Father's lawyer advised him to lie in order to win the case, the honest father refused. He had faith in the lord.

Then the judge had a dream, in it the church was being built by 153 angels. (He counted them all. How he could tell them apart I don't know. I always have trouble telling one angel apart from another.) In any case, the Judge found in favor of the father, and convinced the villagers to give up their land. The church was built. In it he installed sculptures of many saints, as well as the 153 angels. Whether they each sat for portraits individually, I don't know.

It was indeed quite beautiful. The stained glass and statues were imported from france although they decided pews were unnecessary as the villagers were used to sitting on the floor.


Julia said...


April said...

I have been searching everywhere for the story of how Reims (Rheims) Chapel was built. I read somewhere that it was built by a community of volunteers over 100 years. Do you know anything about this story? Could you direct me to a source where I can find out more?

Thanks! Love the pics, BTW!