A church like no other!

Houdan churchX.RenouxCD78

The Saint-Jacques Saint-Christophe church in Houdan…

A church like no other!

An integral part of the particular silhouette of the city, Saint-Jacques Saint-Christophe church contains many curiosities. Here, we reveal to you the secrets of the pretty church of Houdan, which looks like a small cathedral. So you will be able to shine in society and share these anecdotes with those around you!

A church dear to the Houdanais

At the end of the Hundred Years' War, Houdan regained its prosperity as a trading town and stopover town. The Houdanese merchants and craftsmen are doing good business and plan to build a beautiful and large church in the image of their city. To do this, the Church of St-Jacques-le-Majeur built in the 11the century is therefore rebuilt thanks to the generosity of parishioners at the beginning of the 16th centurye century, after receiving the additional title of St. Christopher. Neither the clergy nor the local lords participate in its financing. Only donations and the determination of the local population allow its construction!

However, things are getting complicated, probably due to a lack of funding. It took 250 years to complete the project, which would explain the absence of the left arm of the transept and the upper part of the bell tower. The three centuries of work nevertheless allow us to admire the transition of construction between the flamboyant Gothic style and the Renaissance style.

Margaux Genermont

An exceptional testimony to the French Revolution

During the Revolution, the church became municipal property and was no longer maintained despite its classification as a Historic Monument in 1840. The building was then transformed into a Temple of Reason under the Committee of Public Safety (July 1793 – July 1794) . Its lintel still bears its heritage with the inscription: “The French people recognize the existence of the supreme being and the immortality of the soul”.

Many churches have thus been transformed to celebrate civic and atheist festivals. These festivals were intended to express the ideals of the Enlightenment which wanted to make the people aware of their sovereignty. Today, few religious monuments still preserve traces of this extremely short period of French History.

Facade of Houdan Church

Now let's go past the bottom of the door to discover what's hidden inside the Houdan church. Admire the Gothic elevations, the Renaissance ambulatory and the painting “The Adoration of the Magi” by Louis Licherie. Then head towards the small chapel at the back on the left to discover the famous fresco of Montserrat.

It was in 1949 that we discovered this original and unique fresco under a yellow wash. It commemorates the pilgrimage carried out by around thirty Houdanais in 1582 towards Montserrat (Catalonia) to invoke the Black Virgin, so that the scourge of the plague which was raging in the region would end.

Painted in a naive style, we can see travelers walking towards Montserrat. Keep your eyes peeled for five nuns, a one-legged man, a butcher, a lumberjack... And also discover the names of these people leaving written on the fresco!

Fresco Montserrat Church of Houdan

Protector of a renowned organ

The imposing Clicquot organ present in the church is one of the oldest instruments in France. It dates from 1734 and was built by reusing material from the Desenclos-Carouge organ, dating from 1667. Made by the famous family of organ builders of the same name, this instrument is recognized worldwide. It is also considered an authentic witness to the classical French organ. Indeed, its conservation for the sake of authenticity allows us to hear the organ music of the XNUMXthe and XVIIIe centuries as we understood it at the time.

This instrument, which fell into disuse for a while, regained its nobility thanks to the Houdanaises (them again!). The residents undertook to save it because the Fine Arts administration did not contribute to the restoration costs. Finally in 1972, it was with Madame Pompidou that the very particular melody of the organ resonated again. And this, to the great pleasure of lovers of baroque music!

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