Notre-Dame de Carentan was built in the 11th century. It is mentioned for the first time in 1106 at the time of the visit of Henry I of England, on Easter day. From the Romanesque period there remain only the west door, the lower part of the pillars and the four main pillars of the crossing with the Romanesque arches.
During the Hundred Years' War in in 1443 the church was in ruins. Reconstruction started first with the nave and the south aisle. Guillaume de Cerisay, a knight and bailiff, richly endowed the church. Its surface area was doubled with the construction of the choir, ambulatories and the north aisle, about 1466. The inauguration took place in 1470. In 1517, the Chapelle du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) was added and the end of the choir. From the same period are the screen surrounding the choir and about fifteen stained glass windows.
In June 1944, American bombers, at the time of D-Day, caused serious damage to the spire, the west door and the choir. The organ was badly damaged, stained glass shattered, the roof holed and the clock damaged. Fortunately, in 1940 the old stained glass had been taken out and stored in the countryside.
The church interior is decorated with paintings from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. In the choir, in the middle of the magnificent reredos behind the high altar (1655), one can admire a very beautiful “Assumption of the Virgin”, the work of Jacques de la Haie, probably from Falaise, painted for Notre-Dame in 1658. This picture is listed by the Beaux-Arts (French National Arts School), and is certainly the outstanding work in the church.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.