Because the Kings of France were crowned at Reims, the Archbishop of Riems was one of the most powerful men in France. The cathedral had all the usual Objects of Catholic worship but because the church is so old, powerful and wealthy, the objects are similarly ancient and precious. The royal treasury’s most remarkable objects are Charlemagne’s talisman (9th century) and Saint Remi’s chalice (12th century). The Sainte-Ampoule, or “holy flask”, contains the holy oil with which new kings were anointed during the coronation ceremony. In addition the Palace of Tau contained all of the coronation regalia, most of which were either taken to Paris or melted down during the French Revolution. Fortunately many pieces were hidden and saved both during the Revolution and the two World Wars. The treasure, which is very rich in precious reliquaries, chalices, and other pieces of goldsmith’s work, was saved from the fire of September 19, 1914, by the Curé of the Cathedral and one of his abbés. After being temporarily placed in the house of the Cardinal, it was evacuated in 1915, at the order of the Historical Monuments Department. The Coronation items from Charles X are also located here.
Charlemagne had a sapphire talisman/amulet made for his wife by the sorcerers of the court of Haroun el Raschid, Emperor of the East. The talisman had two large cabochon sapphires. One was oval and the other was square. They were set into a remnant of the wood from the Holy Cross (the Cross of Jesus) and a small piece of the Virgin’s hair. It was to make their love constant. It must have worked, since he never stopped loving her. This talisman was buried with him at Aix-la-Chapelle, in 814, and re-discovered when the tomb was opened by Otto III in 1000. The talisman was then preserved in the treasury of the Cathedral until it was given, by the canons, to Empress Josephine in 1804, to wear at her coronation.
Each side of the crown was set with a great cabochon (a polished gem that is not cut into facets) sapphire in a foliated (leaf-like) colate [compared in detail to) that rose from the rim of gold. The crown had lots of embossed (a raised design or relief) work and coarse filigree (ornamental openwork of fine wire) with settings of garnets, carbuncles, emeralds, and pearls. The interior can only be seen from the oval side.
The Talisman of Charlemagne was kept in this reliquary. It remained in the care of the Queen Hortense (Hortense Eugénie Cécile Bonaparte) who was the mother of Napoléon III. He gave the talisman to Empress Eugenie. This reliquary was created by Napoléon III to house the Talisman of Charlemagne. When the bombardment of the Reims Cathedral occurred in 1914, Empress Eugenie decided to give it back to the Reims Cathedral.
The Chalice of the Coronation, or Chalice of Saint Remi, is made of gold, enamel, pearls and precious stones. It is a remarkable work of art from the 12th century. It was used at the end of the coronation by the Kings of France to drink wine. Tradition said it was cast from the gold of the Soissons vase. It was sent to the foundry at the Monnaie de Paris and happily forgotten in the Museum of Antiquities of the National Library in Paris. It was returned to Reims in 1861 under Napoleon III.
John Baptist de La Salle (1651-1719) was a French priest, educational reformer, and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. He is a saint of the Roman Catholic church and the patron saint of teachers. De La Salle dedicated much of his life to the education of poor children in France; in doing so, he started many lasting educational practices. He is considered the founder of the first Catholic schools.
As early as the 6th century there was a church in Reims dedicated to the Apostles. After Clovis was baptized, he built a church of the Apostles in Paris. I was unable to find anything specific about the beautiful reliquary.
Samson of Mauvoisin (died 1161) was the French archbishop of Reims from 1140 to 1161. He is a significant historical figure of his times. He undertook the capture of Eon d’Etoile, self-proclaimed Messiah. He was concerned about heresy spread by weavers. He acted for Eleanor of Aquitaine, in her divorce case from Louis VII of France. He participated in the general declaration of peace made by Louis at Soissons, in 1155.
This cornelian/carnelian (red color above) cup in an elaborate silver gilt mount was originally a table decoration to hold utensils. It was given to Queen Anne de Bretagne by the aldermen of Tours on the occasion of her joyous entry into the city in 1500. Its lid, shaped like a ship’s bridge, was enlivened by picturesque figures of courtiers and soldiers. A few years later, the queen had the piece transformed into a reliquary, replacing the original figures with others, in gold and silver, of St Ursula and her companion.
The Reliquary of the Resurrection which Henri II of France gave to the cathedral of Rheims on his coronation in 1547 still survives. It was long considered to have been made for that occasion, but recently M. Pierre Verlet has recognized both it and the ‘Nef de Sainte Ursule’, given to the cathedral by the same donor, as being works of earlier date furbished up for the occasion. The whole of the Resurrection ‘reliquary’, indeed, is late medieval except for the initials and crescent devices which Henri II caused to be added to it.
A monstrance, also known as ostensorium, is the vessel used in Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Anglican churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic host, during Eucharistic adoration or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Created in the medieval period for the public display of relics, the monstrance today is usually restricted for vessels used for hosts. The word monstrance comes from the Latin word monstrare, meaning “to show”. In Latin, the monstrance is known as an ostensorium (from ostendere, “to show”. Another place to store the Eucharist host is a Ciboire, like the one shown above from the 16th century. A Ciboire is simply a large cup with a hinged lid.
A paten, or diskos, is a small plate, usually made of silver or gold, used to hold Eucharistic bread which is to be consecrated. It is generally used during the service itself, while the reserved sacrament is stored in the tabernacle in a ciborium. The chalice and the paten above are from the 17th century, I think the chalice might be in rose gold.
At the Traditional Mass, the priest and people face east, towards the Lord, with the priest’s back to the people. This orientation was used at the Last Supper and by the early Christians, and it continues to be used at the Traditional Mass. There were three pages written in Latin and sometimes hand-decorated tables arranged on the altar, one to the left contained the text of the prologue of the Gospel according to St. John, the priest said at the end of the mass. In the center a table in three columns included the Gloria, the Creed and the prayers of consecration. To the right the third contained the prayers of blessing water and sink. These examples are beautifully illuminated with angels and miniature scenes from the Bible.
Prior to the creation of the Order of the Holy Spirit in 1578 by Henri III, the senior order of chivalry in France had been the Order of Saint Michael. This order had originally been created to rival the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece, and to help ensure that leading French nobles remained loyal to the Crown. Its membership was initially restricted to a small number of powerful princes and nobles, but this increased dramatically due to the pressures of the Wars of Religion: at the beginning of the reign of Henry III, the order had several hundred living members, ranging from kings to bourgeois. Recognizing that the order had been significantly devalued, Henry founded the Order of the Holy Spirit on December 31, 1578, thereby creating a two-tier system. The new order would be reserved for princes and powerful nobles while the old Order of Saint Michael would be given to less eminent servants of the Crown. This Order was dedicated to the Holy Spirit to commemorate the fact that Henry was elected King of Poland (1573) and inherited the throne of France (1574) on two Pentecosts. It was finally abolished by Louis Phillipe although members continued to elect new members into the order.
The Holy Ampoule was destroyed in 1793 by French revolutionaries, when the Convention sent Philippe Rühl to smash the ampoule publicly on the pedestal of the statue of Louis XV with a hammer. The day before its destruction, the constitutional curé, Jules-Armand Seraine and a municipal officer, Philippe Hourelle had nevertheless largely emptied the ampulla of its balm. What was left was placed in a new Reliquaire de la Sainte Ampoule, seen above. I will have more on this subject in the next post.
The Tau Palace is actually a museum today, but whatever it is called it is full of beautiful historical objects. A must see if you visit Reims.
Paris to the Past: http://books.google.com/books?id=o8ezATGpxO8C&pg=PA71&lpg=PA71&dq=Tau+Palace+reims&source=bl&ots=tvMaabnl-H&sig=Hgp1BtddFJuivbmqDhievdZ-gcs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=BGUzU8_vOsmkrAGekoHgDw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwCTgy#v=onepage&q=Tau%20Palace%20reims&f=false
Reims and the Battles for It’s Possesions: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36885/36885-h/36885-h.htm
Reims Resurection Reliquary: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7855126
Canon d’Autel: http://www.paris.catholique.fr/650-Les-Canons-d-autel.html