The magnificent Sainte-Chapelle on Paris’s Ille de la Cite is hailed as one of the greatest works of Gothic architecture. Completed in the mid-Thirteenth Century, it is perhaps most famous for its soaring stained glass windows, which were meant to dapple the floor in so many hues as to evoke the heavens.
I visited on a rainy Wednesday one January, and the sun shed no light into the great upper story chapel. But I have to say that seeing the chapel in its most brooding state showed just what a refuge Gothic architecture was to the masses while the cloak of the Dark Ages still covered the kingdoms of Europe. If nothing else than from within, the chapel’s polychromatic glass segments sparkled with an enveloping and deeply warm sense of hope.
Even in the dim gloom of stormy winter skies, Sainte-Chapelle is a sonnet to light. From the flicker of the chandeliers to the glimmer of gold leaf stamped upon the walls and ceilings, this chapel has its own celestial glow: with or without the help of the heavens beyond.