1733: efforts to develop the island, build roads, draw the plan of the city based on a north/south major street: rue de Paris/Victoire: allows location for a church
1746: the new church is consecrated
Governor Mahe de Labourdonnais (important in the development of Bourbon and Mauritius) is engaged in the war of the Indies, taking city of Madras to the British, stole the bell from the church of Madras
End of the coffee era: coffee plantations destroyed by cyclones and epidemics
Replaced by sugar cane: more profit, more slaves are brought
1850: 1st bishop of Reunion is nominated
1860: church becomes a cathedral: more beautiful and bigger
Awning is added in the neoclassical (reminds style of Louisiana)
Sculpture/Bas relief = represents St Denis with his executioner (had his head chopped off) with his companions St John and St Joseph. Above an angel and on the left a baby, symbol for the christian world
1962: a cyclone destroyed the bell tower, the roof and the organ
Fountain was offered by the mayor to the town in 1854.
Represents 4 main economic sectors: Navy (anchor, rope), Commerce (caduceus, purse, wheat bag), agriculture (sugarcane, corn, grapes), industry (gear, hammer, anvil)
Restored in 2010
Street lamps are copies of antics that used to burn with whale oil
Trees are ficus benjamina
Bronze bust of Father Monnet: abolitionist priest, commited for the education of slaves, his motto was: you can not evangelize without emancipate
Was driven out of the island in 1846 and died in 1849 in Madagascar
Baptismal font, divided in 2 : immersion baptism or aspertion
1963, after Jenny, ceiling restored with reinforced concrete, covered with wood recreate as it was in 1869, in box-section frame
Representation of the head of John the Baptist, beheaded by king Herod: head on a tray to offer to the king
From the first building remains: Pulpit (chaire) / Cathedra or bishop’s throne teak from India
Marble from Camargue
JC’s grave, crosses symbolize the Christ’s injuries (crown of thorns)
Dark spots / stains made when the Chrism (consecrated oil) burned during the consecration of the altar
Bishop Maupoint: 1857-1871 very important for the religious life of reunion, founded himself 21 parishes
Bishop de Beaumont: 1917-1934 enlisted during WWI, here 7000 soldiers died and 7000 came back
Painting by Father Moinot, student of Puvis de Chavanne (famous symbolist paintor)
1904, represents the story of France with Jesus Christ as the main character, holding the cross as a sceptre.
From pagan Gaul to Napoleon
To the left:
St Peter (holds the keys of the church) gives the pastoral stick to St Crescens 1st bishop of Vienna and 1st bishop of the gauls
On the foreground St Lazarus, Jesus’s friend with his shroud, St Marthe and Mary, holding the hand of Trophimus of Arles (1st bishop of Arles)
Mary Magdalene is prostrating before Jesus, kissing his feet.
On the left, the pagan Gaul druids are preparing a ritual sacrifice and counting the sacred mistletoe.
St Martin is introducing Jesus to the pagans as the messiah of the one and only god
St Blandina is sitting up against the steps of Jesus’s throne, with her lion (she was feed to the lions but they refused to eat her)
To the right:
St Paul introduces St Denis 1st bishop of Paris to the Christ
Behind, St Genevieve the patron saint of Paris and St Clothilde with her husband Clovis the Frankish king (on bended knee)
St Remigius holds the Vase of Soissons
In the background, the white bearded character is Charlemagne (Charles the Great).
On the foreground, St Bernard bishop of Vienne and St Louis (Louis IX?) and St Joan of Arc with the white banner called The Maid of Orleans (led the french to a victory against english domination)
The 3 characters on the right are from the modern period: Louis XIV the sun king, Bossuet french bishop and orator, and Napoleon
Background is consistent with the characters:
Oak forest and menhir behing druids
Southern france lanscape and a roman city
Notre Dame cathedral and Sacre-Coeur Basilica
On the sides:
Left: St Denis spreading the Gospels to boatmen of the Seine in Paris.
Right: St Denis blessing the city of Paris before his executioner waiting to chop his head off.
St Denis: is said to have picked his head up and walked ten kilometres (six miles). Where he collapsed, was built a cathedral.
Bishop Gilbert Aubry was appointed in 1976. He was at 34 years old the youngest bishop ever ordained and the first reunionese bishop. He is still currently officiating after 35 years. He founded an association for cultural and religious harmony, that brings together the representatives of the different cultures of Reunion island. We owe him, thanks to him the different religious communities live in harmony.
Anecdote: 1955, covered painting with a modern painting. But it was misunderstood: people thought it was a fridge and the angels were children rising to the sky reminding them the children that past away.
Anecdote: 50s sudden peak in the number of baptisms, because the building across the steet was used for a while as a maternity hospital.