Another Sacred Space and the Real Purpose of the Trip

Sometime in 1968, when we'd been married for not quite a year, were very poor, and living in Navy enlisted housing that had been built around 1940, Himself showed me a picture in an architecture magazine. It was a picture of a church (this is when it all started, I guess) that he liked, by an architect that he admired. He thought I would like to see it; he thought I might like it, too. He was right on both counts. I liked it. A lot. It was different from other churches. I remember our mentioning right then and there that we thought we might like to go visit that church one day.

One day came. About forty-eight years later.

Swiss architect Le Corbusier's masterpiece, Notre-Dame du Haut, located in Ronchamps, France, was completed in 1954. Located adjacent to a Poor Clares convent, it was created to replace a chapel that had been destroyed during the Second World War. Joe discovered it fourteen years later. And forty-eight years after that, we visited.

This chapel is a world-renowned architectural masterpiece. It is a pilgrimage place for both the faithful (August 15 and September 8 are the feast days) and for architects from all over. In a few months UNESCO will announce the decision about whether it is to become a World Heritage Site. Notre-Dame du Haut is visited by thousands of people every years.

And yet the day we visited, we were alone for almost the duration of our stay. A small group of young elementary school students was finishing their visit as we arrived and a larger group of older students came as we were leaving. But, incredibly, for about an hour, we were alone in and around the church. Forty-eight years. Is anything ever worth that kind of a wait?

Yes. Oh, yes.


Millie said…
YES, YES, YES and YES!!! I adore architecture, and I recognized this building before I read a word of your post. Such a beautiful building, inside and out. I am glad you were able to visit, and also glad you got to spend time there without a lot of folks milling about.

Karla said…
I love dreams and I love that a beautiful couple fufilled a romantic dream. Thanks for sharing that little piece of you and Himself.
Barbara Anne said…
What an inspirational exterior and interior this wonderful church has. The well-placed windows beautifully cast light inside. Mr. Le Corbusier's design was/is so perfect in every way. Memorable, indeed, and so worth the long-awaited journey. What an special gift and blessing to be virtually alone during your visit.

OTquilter said…
How wonderful to hold onto a dream for so long, and to have it fulfilled in such a perfect way; having time alone to experience the space must have been thrilling and humbling. Thanks, again, for taking us along.
Janet O. said…
Looks like an incredible place. How very appropriate that you had the place to yourself as you fulfilled your dream. I can feel the hush and the awe through the photos. Can I use the word "amazing" here? : )
Jo said…
Nancy, have been following your blog for years and have been part of your swaps. These pics blew me away. I attended st Brendan's school in the Bronx, the architecture has so many similarities -brought me back to the church of my preteens. Loved your story (as always), of coming full circle.
Lori said…
How exciting 48 years later! And to have it mostly to yourself! How perfect. I have to admit, I've never heard of this church. Looks so beautiful but primitive and rustic at the same time.
suz said…
what a perfect place for prayer and meditation