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The restoration of Chartres Cathedral: the temple of the lost «black Madonna»

In the French city of Chartres, ended a ten-year restoration of a Gothic Cathedral, considered one of the pinnacles of medieval architecture. The result caused shock and believers were forced to re-look at the concept of restoration.

One of the main shrines of the Cathedral was the so-called «black Madonna». Wooden sculpture of the XVI century depicted the Holy Mary with the infant Christ as the king and Queen of heaven. Both were black.

These images are considered miraculous and is especially revered by believers. The most famous of the «black Madonnas» is yasnogorskiy monastery in Czestochowa and is recognized as the patroness of Poland.

Therefore, when the people of Chartres and tending to the city the pilgrims were able to look again at the Shrine, they were shocked. «Black Madonna» was white. Turned white, and the walls of the Cathedral. In the visitors ‘ book were inscriptions in which the work of the restorers declared kitsch and bad taste.

Experts were angered by the accusations that the Cathedral looks like a «remake». They say that they returned to the building and its interior pristine, clearing the soot from candles and fireplaces, as well as centuries of dirt. Before restoration they found that the Madonna was originally white.

«Our idea of what Gothic cathedrals were dark and gloomy place, devoid of any reason. They were not temples of melancholy. No need to feel nostalgic about the mud,» — said the newspaper The New York Times Harvard Professor Jeffrey hamburger.

Restorers cleaned and most of the stained glass Windows, through which the Cathedral was inscribed on the UNESCO world cultural heritage UNESCO. However, some of them will be dirty – so that visitors could feel the difference.

The completion of the works in Chartres Cathedral raises the question of the limits of restoration, about the conflict between our conceptions of history and historical truth. It is known, for example, that the Greek statues that we used to see in natural color, painted. But for us the artistic value is a structure of marble, but not the long lost paint.

The restoration of Chartres Cathedral: the temple of the lost «black Madonna» 04.09.2017

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