|Jubé seen from the nave.
There I wanted to admire some more edifices that reflect the history of this town, just as the beautiful Middle-Age houses do in the unique ‘Champagne cork’ historical centre.
|Below the jubé gallery.
|View from behind, towards the nave from the chancel.
|Jubé gallery with Saint John.
The church indeed reflects a prosperous period during which such rich parishoners, occupying judicial and administrative posts (hence the term nobility ‘of the gown’), were eager to finance ambitious embellishment projects.
Being the wealthiest parish of Troyes, the church of Sainte Madeleine required a grandiose extension.
|Stairway to the gallery/loft of the jubé.
As a result, the somewhat modest church – the oldest of Troyes - built in the 12th century, grew in size over the centuries, but most significantly so from the 15th century.
The interior of the Sainte Madeleine of the 16th century is largely what we still see today.
The exterior has undergone several significant modifications over the centuries.
Indeed, the main façade was altered at the end of the 18th century, whilst the original cemetery was made redundant in the 18th century and ossuary was removed in the 19th.
|Entrance to former cemetery of Sainte Madeleine.
|Entrance to the Jardin des Innocents.
|Jardin des Innocents with traces of former ossuary.
This was opened in 1550 to give direct access to the cemetery from the church.
|Southern entrance leading from the Jardin des Innocents to the church.
|Surprisingly sober southern doorway.
|Renaissance bell tower.
|Rue Sainte Madeleine.
|Jubé gallery with the Crucifixion (the 'rood').
|Le Calvaire - wooden relief from mid 16th century.
The jubé takes its name from the first word of the Latin prayer “Jube, domine, benedicire" (“Deign, Lord, to bless me”.) spoken by the Reader before the lessons of Morning Mass. Indeed, this impressive structure served as a gallery from which the Gospel was read and sermons could be delivered to the congregation.
In this manner, the jubé replaced the one or two ‘ambon’ that had traditionally figured in churches; namely the elevated platforms, set onto several steps in the chancel. Following the demise of the jubé, these liturgical functions would be subsequently performed in the lectern and pulpit.
Singing also took place from the jubé, accompanied by a portable organ; hence the origin of the term ‘chantereau’ sometimes used to describe this gallery. Access was provided by stairs to the side of the gallery structure.
The elaboration of the simple rood-beam, with its Crucifixion, lead to far more substantial, imposing rood-loft as little by little the beam was widened to accommodate the candles for illumination of the central figures. In this manner, these early transversal structures were also referred to as ‘candle beams’. As this humble beam metamorphosed into the rood-loft, having acquired greater stature and importance in the liturgical rites, the structure began to require greater support, in the form of pillars and columns.
|Rather graphic detail on the jubé!
It also functioned as a visual barrier that concealed parts of the liturgy and heightened the spiritual experience and is sometimes likened to the 'iconostatis' (walls of icons or religious paintings) of Eastern Christian churches.
|The History of Salvation.
It was this same concealment that drew harsh condemnation of the jubé as it was considered to be inconsistent with the redefined tenets of liturgy which required that the chancel and each part of the service therein be fully visible to the laity. Pulpits and communion rails were consequently deemed more appropriate.
|The Sky, the Earth and Water.
|Separation of the elements.
|The Tree of Jesse.
Work commenced around 1510, and the jubé, sculpted in stone from Tonnere (Yonne region), fully reflects the mastery and determination of its creator, who was eventually buried beneath his masterpiece, with the epitaph indicating that he awaited “Blessed Resurrection, without the fear of being crushed”. On the top of the Renaissance jubé gallery, we can see the different patrons of this work in sculpted medallions, all carried out by a secondary sculptor, Nicolas Halins.
However my favourite details have to be the numerous plants and animals that decorate the whole structure, to the point where your eyes simply do not know on what to focus! Unfortunately, the sculpted wooded partition that originally closed the jubé has been taken to the Musée de Vauluisant which I did not manage to visit…
The stairway leading to the gallery, added around 1514, is still visible. Whereas the jubé appears to us largely as a delicate white, in fact it was initially polychrome, and on closer inspection areas of green colour can still be seen.
Indeed, we seem to assume today that these centuries-old religious buildings bore the uniform, sober tones of masonry, and the only colours available were those of the stained-glass windows, but in fact this was often far from the actual case.
Here in Sainte Madeleine, ‘les vitraux de l’Ecole champenoise’ must have set off the colouration of the once poly-chrome jubé. Nevertheless, it is difficult to describe here the incredible range and depth of colour of the stained-glass of this church and do it justice... It is hardly surprising that these vitraux were an inspiration and model for numerous ecclesiastic buildings in the Champagne and Burgundy regions.
Of the many religious episodes exposed here, my favourite scenes were those of the History of Salvation and the Tree of Jesse, where the colour, luminosity and detail are unbelievable.
In addition, given the relatively low height of these windows, the stained glass can be admired with relative ease and an uncrooked neck! So, if ever you have the chance to visit the magnificent Medieval town of Troyes, make sure you track down the Sainte Madeleine. It took me a little while to find, meandering as I did through all those magical streets, but I enjoyed every moment of that and my destination was just amazing…