Bonnevaux Chapel: signs of a legacy of faith

Leonardo Leonardo

Elba Rodríguez, from Colombia, is part of the Meditatio House oblate community. She was recently in Bonnevaux for the official blessing that took place on the 21st November. During the days before she helped to prepare the chapel for the big day and then she made a meaningful little discovery:

There were several parts of the house and activities that required our focus. I directed my attention to the small chapel that stands 30 meters from the house.

The chapel dates to the mid 19th century and seats about 30 people, although we were more than that on the Blessing day. Two older harmoniums in a state of repair guard the corners of the entrance. The chapel must have been used until the 1990s as prayer books, antiphonaries, pictures of Pio X, Pio XIII, John Paul II and devotional stamps still rested intact on both musical instruments. Five pews were arranged inside the small space. Antique French altar candlestick holders, vases and unknown relics adorned the altar. Devotional objects and remains of medieval alabaster windows were also behind the altar.

The stained glass windows that adorn the chapel were designed by L. Lobin in Tours in 1867 and were big enough to let the natural light come in during the shorter days of November. Next to the altar is a statue of Jesus reading a text in Hebrew and Mary lovingly observing him.

The rather unglamorous but necessary task in preparation for the blessing was to dust off the inside of the chapel and to do it with the utmost contemplative and meditative care during very cold and humid November days. What seemed ordinary became very significant after finding on Sunday 19 November, the last day of preparation of the chapel, a lightly dusted folded paper in the middle left drawer of the third pew of the chapel. It was the order of mass of Christ the King Sunday, 20 November 1988! And 29 years forward we are here in Bonnevaux bringing to life a vision rooted in the Christian tradition but also open to pilgrims and seekers of other faiths. Once Bonnevaux is in operation, this little place will offer a quiet retreat for prayer, worship and meditation for all those seeking silence within.

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