The Hertfordshire Chamber Ensemble performed a special concert for young people on Friday 26 July 2013 at the Chapelle du Crucifix in Le Croisic, and I thought it would be useful to write a blog about the Chapelle itself.
Building of the Chapelle du Crucifix began at the beginning of the 16th century and finished in 1530. Two Papal bulls (of Pope Clement VII and Paul III, from 1534 and 1540) gave indulgences to those who visited and maintained it.
This construction was due to an idea of a rich merchant and shipowner, Raoul Karahes, who decided to build a shrine at the traditional site of the baptisms by St Felix, the Bishop of Nantes. St Felix features in a stained glass window in Notre Dame de Pitie, the church in the port of Le Croisic, which you can read about here.
The Chapelle was closed between 1791 and 1858 as it was requisitioned by the French state and served as an artillery store. Father Bigare, the curate of Le Croisic, bought it back on 5 October 1858 for the sum of 600 Francs, and resold it on 30 October 1863 for 2500 Francs to Baron Paul Caruel of Saint Martin, on the condition that it be restored to its religious use and never be changed into housing. The Baron, then his daughter Amelie and his son-in-law, the Marquis Christian de Partz de Pressy, restored the Chapelle with new stained glass windows being put in at the end of the 19th century, the frames being remade in pitchpin. The Chapelle was bequeathed to the Diocesan Association of Nantes on 4 March 1942 by the Marquis Jean-Paul de Partz de Pressy and Anne de Partz de Pressy, Duchess Oudinot of Reggio, through the intervention of Monseigneur Villepelet, the Bishop of Nantes.
The Chapelle consists of a nave ending with an apse with three gables set with windows.
The roof has two slopes on the nave and three on the apse. Its chevet (the apse and the choir, and something typically French) contains multiple valleys, something especially rare in the Nantes region, and showing the influence of the construction of churches in lower Brittany (Basse Bretagne).
The stained glass window at the bottom of the nave represents Our Lady topped by family arms. It is well worth noting the framed engoulants on the wooden beams which were rebuilt in the 19th century.
Maybe they are wolves, which would be appropriate given that we performed Pierre et le Loup at the concert.
There are a number of statues throughout the church, of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saint Felix, Saint Joseph and Saint Vincent de Paul. Sacristy furniture occupies the bottom of the choir, upon which stands a tabernacle made from neoclassical wood, like the altar which dates from the end of the 19th century.
There is an exceptional acoustic due to the paving of the choir in granite together with the vault being of pitch pine, and this was very clear through the concert. My voice certainly travelled to the back of the church without amplification as I narrated Pierre et le Loup.
The Chapelle is delightful and while you visit you will also notice the beauty of the location, which most likely has something to do with the fact that the Chapelle itself really does inspire serenity and calm.
You can see more photographs of the Chapelle here.