Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ah the Catholic Church...

Yes, there are a few things that I understand - for instance:

- the Catholic Church, just like most other religious institutions is constantly competing to win (and keep) the souls (and wallets) of the common man, and building giant, imposing religious structures has always been a sure fire way of proving to the populace that your deity's the most awesomest

- even so, the church itself didn't actually have to build all the awe-inspiring churches and cathedrals that you find scattered all over Europe; lots of them got built by rich nobles, hoping to curry favor from the church. In this life or the next.

I understand all that, but still, sometimes it's just a bit of overkill. Take the French city of Lyon: it's got a nice, beautiful, and appropriately imposing Cathedral:

The Cathedral St-Jean - you'd think it ought to really be enough to convince most mortal commoners that your deity is, in fact, the awesomest

Some beautiful stained glass windows inside too

But here, in Lyon, that was apparently deemed insufficient. Maybe they were feeling a little threatened by all the Protestants across the border in nearby Swiss Geneva. Or maybe the nobles here just had more than their fair share of sins to atone for. Whatever the reason, enough people felt that the Cathedral just wasn't doing its job, and felt obliged to erect a second gigantic church, on a hill directly above the Cathedral St-Jean, and overlooking the entire city of Lyon:

Overkill? Probably... But the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière is certainly a beautiful piece of art in its own right

Equipped with a crypt, bigger than most churches

And a Chapel standing next door - the Virgin Mary guards the city from her perch - she's credited with saving Lyon from both the plague in the 17th century and the Prussians in the 19th century...

Was in necessary? Was the second church the difference between losing dozens of souls (and wallets) to Calvin and his Swiss Protestants? Who knows, but for now, Lyon has a pair of amazing churches. I might not understand the Catholic Church, but it's a good setup for the tourism industry!

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