"In the Light of Vézelay"

In the light of Vézelay Article published the August 24 Emmanuelle Guiliani, director of the cultural department of newspaper La Croix, in the form of an interview with Hélène Ramin, artistic director of the Visitor's House.

In the light of Vezelay - The Visitor's House

Throughout the year, the House of the Visitor proposes to all to enter the secret of the builders of the basilica of the Madeleine, building of stone and light that changes over the days and seasons.

La Croix: What is the mission of the Visitor's House of Vézelay?

Hélène Ramin: A major tourist attraction, Vézelay and its basilica welcome visitors of all ages and from all geographical origins: families and pilgrims, the "general public" and scholars.

The builders of Vézelay

The visits we offer must meet the demands of very different people, from the primary school to members of a scholarly society passionate about architecture.

We therefore adapt flexibly but always ensuring the professional quality of our offers, whatever the audience we address.

Visiting a building like the basilica of Vézelay is an aesthetic experience that we inscribe in its symbolic dimension that has endured and shines for centuries.

Light is your guiding thread ... HR: The builders of Vézelay really worked with the light as much as with the stone.

Scientific studies clearly show that the orientation of the building owes nothing to chance (1). If the sun evokes for Christians the light spread by Christ in humanity, here is a symbol that speaks to all civilizations, all religions.

It is also fascinating to discover during the visits how people from cultures very different from ours or, even, totally foreign to the idea of ​​transcendence, live this symbolic of the sun.

Without strong didacticism, we try to stretch a thread between the cosmic light, the light of thought, the inner light and the divine light.

We travel all or part of this path, depending on the visitor and the exchange that is created with him. It's not about giving him a truth ...

Through these visits but also through a film and photographic views, you wanted to capture the marriage between light and architecture. How?

HR: We wanted indeed to account for this "conversation" between the stone and the sun. For two years, notebook in hand, I did scouting in the basilica, winter and summer, morning and evening.

Light and architecture

The way in which light plays with architecture is fascinating: in winter, it illuminates successively the different faces of the capitals; in summer, at the time of Saint John, the nine puddles constituting a "path of light" on the pavement of the nave offering a spectacle of exhilarating poetry.

This path, which attracts thousands and thousands of visitors to Vézelay during the first days of the summer, was rediscovered in the middle of the 1970 years by the Franciscan brother Hugues Delautre, who was in charge of the daily maintenance of the basilica.

Once the search work was done, the photographer Philippe Brame worked in the basilica, with the precision and the availability of a medieval craftsman. To respond to the order we had given him: capture through his lens these luminous moments as so many poetic phrases.

We are also putting the finishing touches to a new project, in the form of a film of 50 minutes, around the great tympanum of the basilica. The release is scheduled for the next winter solstice ...

(1) The Visitor's House exhibits a model of the basilica that allows to visualize the principles of its construction.
In the light of Vézelay, article by Emmanuelle Guiliani