NÔTRE-DAME DE CHARTRES cathedral in France represents the triumph of Gothic art. A pinnacle
of mankind’s cultural achievement and spiritual expression, the cathedral blends architectural
elements and artistic styles of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
A major pilgrimage destination
for both the faithful and art lovers since the Middle Ages, Nôtre-Dame de Chartres is a unique historic site that has earned
a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Unfortunately, over the centuries, the richness of the cathedral’s stone
carvings and its stained-glass windows, which recount the biblical story
of mankind, has suffered greatly from weathering, pollution and the breath of millions of visitors. Much of the cathedral is now in need of critical repairs.
As its inaugural project, American Friends of Chartres is raising funds
to clean and conserve the five windows in the south portal — below the
magnificent rose window — beginning with the central lancet of the
Madonna and Child.
The theme of the five lancets — that the message of the Old Testament
prophets formed the foundation for the writings of the New Testament
evangelists — is illustrated by depicting the evangelists sitting on the
shoulders of the much larger Old Testament prophets. The central
lancet shows Mary crowned as Queen of Heaven with a scepter in
her right hand and the infant Jesus seated on her left arm.
The windows, executed around 1221, were commissioned by Pierre
Mauclerc, first of the Dukes of Brittany through marriage to Alix
de Thouars. They are shown with their children in the base of the