The basilica gets brighter at the winter solstice

Article published in Yonne Republican 30 December 2017

Around the winter solstice, the sunlight plays perfectly with the interior architecture of the basilica of Vézelay, according to the intention and art of the monks builders.

"The period of the winter solstice is paradoxically the brightest in the abbey church of Vézelay. This is the time of year when the latter is the most enlightened, "says Véronique Feugère, guide-lecturer at the Visitor's House.

How darkness is transformed into light

On this cloudy afternoon, the lecturer Christopher Kelly introduces a group of about fifteen people to the symbolism of the vaults, windows and sculptures of the abbey church. "The stone is the body of the church, it is as lifted by light all year round," he says.

Stopping for a moment at the foot of the sculpted capital representing David mastering a lion, Christopher explains the intimate battles that are forming in the heart of humanity: how everyone goes from anger to tenderness, how all life is "transformation", and how darkness is transformed into light.

It is precisely at this moment that the clouds are torn apart and the sun makes a brief and intense apparition, illuminating finally the capitals high north of the nave, as well as the pillars lit by a more subtle glow. The magic of Christmas has again worked, perpetuating through the centuries the intention of the monks builders of the Middle Ages: that of making the hill surmounted by his church a vessel of stone able to tame the light.

Christine Joseph, correspondent of the Republican Yonne