Saturday, July 20, 2013

Light a candle

Most of France's churches are not monuments but working houses of worship. In the larger towns, the churches are open to all who want to visit them. They are used for weddings, funerals, and other religious observations in addition to regular or semi-regular celebrations of mass.

Candles burn in a side chapel of Notre-Dame-la-Blanche, Selles-sur-Cher.

As tourists visiting these buildings we can sometimes feel that the big, dark, empty spaces have been abandoned. But they have not. They are meticulously maintained (for the most part) and restored where necessary. The alters are often adorned with fresh flowers. Bulletin boards post schedules of events and other community news for the congregants. And there are always candles.

While we were visiting this particular church in Selles-sur-Cher, in addition to a few other tourists, I saw a small number of people walk in, cross themselves, then move to a chair or a chapel to pray. I saw one woman light a candle before beginning her prayer.


  1. You can always tell if a church is still consecrated because there will be a red light glowing somewhere around the altar. This means it is a working church.

  2. Interesting bit of info, Susan!

    I remember being surprised at seeing chairs,instead of pews, in the churches we visited in France.

  3. Everything I've read in the last few years, indicates that the French are finally realizing that religion is BS and are not attending these ridiculous services any longer. Except for the old women, of course.

  4. Several years ago, visiting friends in the Languedoc, we stopped one afternoon at the local large church. There were, as you say, local people, old ladies, some lit candles. It was a surprisingly restful and calm place to just sit for a little while. As I recall, too, a number of plaques naming those in recent wars who "mort pour la France."

  5. susan, just like in a house of ill repute!

    judy, true, there are mostly chairs in these churches, very few pews.

    starman, I don't know about that. France has a long history of "enlightenment," but also a strong tradition of "belief," even if not overly church-going. And the evangelical movement has made it to France as well.

    emm, sometimes the church is cool place to sit when it's very hot outside. ;)


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