Sunday, July 20, 2014

Notre-Dame Basilica, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

The first Christian church in Boulogne-sur-Mer was probably established when the area was a 5th century Roman port town. Legend has it a statue of the Virgin Mary washed up on the shore in the seventh century. One of the local abbeys became known as Notre-Dame and contained images of Our Lady in a small boat guided by two angels, either inspiring or inspired by the legend. A new church was built in the middle ages. The French Revolution brought the closure of the abbey and the destruction of the statue. Eventually, the building was destroyed too. Father Haffreingue, a self-taught architect, began the current church in 1827. The design is a bit haphazard--as money came in a significantly longer nave was added to the design.

Notre-Dame, Boulogne-sur-Mer


Central altar

The dome at the middle is rather striking for its height (100 meters) and the amount of light it lets in.


The area under the dome has several arches that were rebuilt in 1921 to reinforce the dome's support, which probably helped the church survive bombings in World War II.

Rebuilt arches

At the back is a clear reference to the Our Lady of the Sea statue. In the nave I also ran across something that they must use for processions or parades, also in the same theme.

A nice representation of the legend

Not as nice but definitely more portable

A large altar to the Sacred Heart is in the northern transept. Nearby is a more colorful altar donated in 1866 by Prince Torlonia.

Altar dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Torlonia altar

Other decorations include a large wooden statue of King David and an amazing pulpit from another church in town.

King David by Buisine


Back of the pulpit

Sadly, the crypt was closed for restoration. It has columns dating back to the 11th century.

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