Saturday, 10 January 2009

Our Lady's Basilica, Bruges.

The most imposing building in Bruges is the Basilica of Our Lady, with the second tallest brickwork tower in the world, narrowly beaten by the Chrysler building in New York. The spire is crowned, literally, with a monumental stone crown leading up to the tip of the spire. You can see this in the picture above, taken after a couple of Christmas Abbey beers in the very cosy and jolly bar round the corner.

This is the statue of Our Lady and Child by Michaelangelo, destined for Siena Cathedral, that beautiful place in Tuscany. It was bought from the artist by two Brugean merchants and given to the Church in 1514. It has been stolen twice, once by the French, as you might expect, and once by the Nazis. Each time it has been recovered.

This confessional lies to the North of the East end, built into the facade of the sanctuary. A most imposing place to be absolved.

A chapel at the end of the north transept. The whole Church is full of exhibitions and statuary from ancient to modern, as well as this it seems to function as a tourism office, one does not feel as though in a Church until you penetrate past the grumpy man brushing the floor into the inner parts of the Church. I suppose most people look at the statue of Our Lady and go.

Looking from North to South transepts, you see the plastic trees which demarcate the nave and sanctuary. Whether they were for Christmas or not, I could not say. The Church was wonderfully cold and smelt of polish.

The nave altar and screen. I am afraid that looking at the sanctuary involved the paying of a large charge, it has been turned into a museum. I decided not to pay, reckoning that there would be other Baroque Churches to see, and there were. The organ is very fine.

The front of the awesome pulpit, this was the finest I saw in the whole city. The symbol of the Holy Ghost on to is quite beautiful, even in this museum like setting.

And the stairs! I would challenge anyone to mount and descend this in a delicate alb and cassock without slipping once. The gradient is quite something and the tread very narrow.

I am currently in Wakefield for the weekend. This post comes to you through the magic of timing posts. I shall be back tomorrow, tired but home.