Since 2001, Bishop Yves Jean Marie Arsène Boivineau has been bishop of the diocese of Annecy, which is in eastern France near Switzerland.
A Pray Tell reader recently sent in this story about the bishop’s new chapel. Its design is quite interesting. (And it appears that they do the sprinkling rite with a green branch. We do the same at St. John’s.)
More photos can be viewed here.
The piece behind the altar was completed twenty years ago and moved here from another space. The diocese reports that the design of the chapel, including the furniture and stained glass, was carried out with a view toward simplicity and a spirit of contemplation. The Marian blue and white colors of the windows contribute to this.
The Cross does not have an image of Christ; its golden harmony is meant to appear celestial. Gold colors are also used in furnishings throughout the space, which underlines the unity of the People of God with the Lord.
It’s a challenge to design a small chapel like this convincingly. We’ve all seen various successes and less-than-successes in hospitals, nursing homes, chanceries, and the like. Sometimes the chapel appears to be an afterthought, and its size and proportions are all wrong. Low ceilings and carpetting are unfortuante not only for the acoustics of the sung and spoken word, but for the “feel” of the place for prayer and worship.
This space feels right to me – at once spacious and intimate, prayerful while remaining more liturgical than devotional. The floor plan is based on good Eucharistic theology and draws the assembly into the sacred action at the altar table. I suppose the style is a bit stark, perhaps even monastic. I suspect the mildly contemporary artistic style will be appreciated by European Catholics, who are a bit more accustomed to contemporary art (in church and in society) than we in the U.S. tend to be.
Oh – let’s hope the electric piano can be replaced someday with a small tracker! But that would cost a bit of money.