Sainte Chapelle: Masterpiece of Temperance
Built by Saint Louis IX of France, this chapel reflects an extraordinary innocence of soul. We could call this chapel the Chapel of Innocence. Because a soul must be profoundly innocent to conceive this.
Why? Because this chapel causes enthusiasm, no doubt; an enthusiasm without agitation, without overpowering sensations, without producing anything intemperate. The chapel is a masterpiece of temperance. Everything about it is beautiful, magnificent. The enthusiasm the chapel instills is recollected and prayerful.
We can say that each stained glass window is a prayer, each stone is a prayer, each gothic arch is a prayer, surrounding the center of prayer: the altar, where the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary is renewed. Above the altar is a reliquary to display the crown of thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Walking barefoot, asking pardon for his own sins, Saint Louis carried the relics with great devotion from the border of France to Paris. He displayed the contrition of the innocent. As king, he represented his people and asked God to also pardon their sins.
Immense Variety and Harmony
Innocent traits are also noticed in the tall, elevated forms that reach upwards. A tremendous balance is achieved that is so calm, so serene, and so reflective.
The integrity of this work of art is sufficient to make this chapel a masterpiece. Each detail is enchanting. What color are the windows? They are the sum of colors; a mixture of all colors. Their design varies from window to window. However, the colors form a whole, the designs form a whole that contain immense variety and immense harmony. It has movement and harmony. It has stability, and at the same time, agility. It is the Sainte Chapelle.
This commentary is based on a talk given by Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira on April 12, 1989.