The primary preservation effort of American Friends of Chartres is to fund the restoration of the stained-glass windows of Notre-Dame de Chartres. The generous contributions of our donors and corporate sponsors are helping to return the cathedral to its original radiant glory.
Project 1: South transept lancets
NOTRE-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.
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 raised funds to clean and conserve the five lancet windows in the south portal — below the magnificent rose window — beginning with the central lancet of the Madonna and Child. Funding for this project was completed in April 2013.
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 lancets.
Project 2: Bay 140 windows
In March 2013, American Friends of Chartres announced their second funding project at the Cathedral Notre Dame de Chartres, the restoration of the stained glass windows in Bay 140. This is the second bay from the west on the south side of the nave clerestory and features the Alpha and Omega Rose Window and the lancets of Saint Peter and Saint James the Major.
The rose window (approximately four meters in diameter) shows Christ enthroned between Alpha and Omega and two angels. In his right hand, Christ holds an orb; with his left, he makes a gesture of blessing. On either side of the head of Christ are the letters Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This image gives visual life to His declaration “I am the Beginning and the End.”
The Saint Peter lancet (7.35 meters by 1.9 meters) shows the apostle barefooted and tonsured, with an inscription reading S. PETRVS. He holds a book in one hand and the traditional keys in the other. Though he holds the keys in his bare hand, he holds the book in his cloak- a practice reserved for holding sacred objects. The guild of bakers donated the window. Below Saint Peter, a baker sells a loaf of bread to a man.
The Saint James lancet features a large standing figure of the saint, bearded and haloed, and the inscription S. IACOBVS. He wears a garment covered with his emblematic cockle-shells and holds a pilgrim’s staff in one hand. The theme of bakers as donors is continued in the bottom part of this window: two men carry a basket of bread; flames come out a small oven: and a worker cuts dough with a knife to make loaves.
American Friends of Chartres is proud to have partnered in the important work of restoring these great windows, created between 1205 and 1215. We report with great satisfaction that the project is completed and funded, and the restored windows were reinstalled in April 2016. You may be interested in helping American Friends of Chartres with our next project, the restoration of two bay-windows and the Nativity Scene of the Jubé, described in our 2017 solicitation letter. If so, please choose to donate on this site or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.