Page 16, 15th July 1938

15th July 1938
Page 16
Page 16, 15th July 1938 — PICTURESQUE CEREMONIES
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PICTURESQUE CEREMONIES

From Our Special Correspondent.

RHEIMS.

HE inauguration ceremony began on Saturday when the Cardinal Legate was installed and in the evening a play was given on the parvis of the Cathedral. The square in front of the basilica was filled with people, the statue of St. Joan of Arc having been removed to one side for the occasion. The first part was a mystery of the XIIth century, the play of Adam and Eve with appropriate music. It was well-acted by the Sorbonne Mediaeval Theatre Group. But the second part, the great hours in the life of the Cathedral, was more moving, and when Joan of Arc entered from the back of the audience the play seemed to reach its natural climax. The company moved

into the Cathedral for the Coronation and all seemed over. But there was more to :orne and the bombing of the Cathedral was very movingly acted.

Skilful Reconstruction

At times the skilful lighting played on the statue of St. Joan of Arc in its unfamiliar place and, again, on the west front of the Cathedral. Only then did one begin to grasp how wonderful the basilica really is. It has been reconstructed in great part; but the tradition that it is never finished is still fulfilled. Some of the high windows of the tower still show black

and smoke-soiled. Parts of the west front look worn by the natural attrition of the elements.

But the reconstruction has been well done. The west door alone, with its small rose window, now filled with glass once more is a gem and the flanking figures, the famous smiling angel and the rest, stand as impressive symbols of an ace and a spirit which appears to be not only past but almost forgotten. The great rose window, high above the door, is very lovely again, and it is difficult to imagine how the Cathedral looked twenty years ago before the marks of its passion had been so skilfully wiped away.

Choir of 400

The great nave is magnificent. But the height of the Cathedral is so vast that the lengths seem diminished. The Choir is so large that it accommodated on Sunday an immense body of clergy and still left room for the Cardinals and the great space before the high altar. The Choir, at the back of the altar, held, on Sunday, 400 singers. Hcre, again, so sure has been the proportion that there seems nothing extraordinary in these great spaces. Westminster Cathedral seems small as compared with it and the reconstruction has been so admirably done that the basilica can again claim a unique place not only in France but in Christendom. The altar is long and low. The tapers used are real " tapers" of usual height. The impression conveyed is of exquisite proportion and dignity, a worthy symbol of the ages of faith.




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