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Chartres Cathedral restoration – behold the Black, now White, Madonna

Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France

The Chartres Cathedral, also known as the Lady of the Cathedral at Chartres, has been luring large numbers of Christian pilgrims to Chartres, France, since the current structure was built between 1194 and 1220. The current structure, a World Heritage site since 1979, is an excellent example of Gothic architecture that replaced an early Romanesque version. The structure and its interior components are extremely well preserved, including the Sancta Camisa (or Veil of the Virgin), believed to have been worn by the Virgin Mary when during Christ’s birth. In fact, relatively few changes have been made to the cathedral, in stark contrast to the continued rebuilding and additions that affected numerous other cathedrals throughout Europe.

One of the more popular items attracting pilgrims was the Black Madonna with Child statue that loomed over the main altar. Commissioned in 1304, the Black Madonna is relatively rare for cathedrals. And after the most recent extensive restoration of the Cathedral, the Black Madonna is now white. The entire restoration project has been subject to extensive criticism, with some stating the project is in violation of the restoration principles outlined in the seminal Venice Charter of 1964, also known as the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites.

Now that the project has been completed, the public can see, and decide, for themselves


A Controversial Restoration That Wipes Away the Past

By Benjamin Ramm

The New York Times

September 1, 2017

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