Notre Dame, Paray-le-Monial, East End: Crossing Tower and Chevet Basilica of Sacré Coeur, Paray-le Monial, East End: Crossing Tower and Chevet
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Soon after its founding in 973, the monastery at Paray-le-Monial in Burgundy was formally linked as a daughter house to the influential Abbey of Cluny. Construction of the present structure began late in the 11th C. and was completed around 1109. Although it has undergone some alterations, destructions and restorations throughout the centuries, the architecture of the priory church at Paray-le-Monial is regarded as a fine example of Burgundian Romanesque architecture and represents a smaller, modified version of Cluny III (foundations laid 1089; consecrated 1130; largely destroyed 1798-1823). The church is constructed with a narthex flanked by two towers, a three-bay nave with two aisles terminating in a semicircular apse surrounded by an ambulatory from which three chapels radiate. A transept with no aisles crosses the length of the church, with two bays on either side of the crossing; there is one chapel on each arm of the transept, north and south. The oldest part of the church is the narthex, which is probably part of an earlier church. It was rebuilt in the 13th and 19th centuries; its towers were strengthened in the 19th C. Around 1470 the chapel of the south arm of the transept was rebuilt in the Gothic style as a funeral chapel for the Damas-Digoine family. The bell tower at the crossing is a mid-19th C. restoration (ca. 1858, Eugène Millet) of the 14th C. crossing tower which had been damaged in the French Revolution and replaced with a dome (ca. 1810). The tiered massing of forms creates an elegantly integrated exterior silhouette and, on the interior, allows for direct lighting of the center nave, choir and apse by clerestory windows. Windows illuminating side aisles, ambulatory and chapels introduce light on other levels and planes that also filters to the central space. In 1792, the monastic church of Notre Dame became a parish church; in 1875, Pope Pius IX elevated the church to the rank of a minor basilica and consecrated it to the Sacred Heart (thus, the two names). ca. August 1981
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