Friday, 6 July 2018

Guests of honour

St-Chistophe-en-Bresse - Eglise St-Christophe
Somewhere in March 2016, when we returned from a short holiday in Paris, we found a message on the answering machine of a lady, a certain Mme Bouthier from Saint-Christophe-en-Bresse with a question whether we could provide her with some photographs. We phoned her back to find out what exactly she wanted, and she came up with the following story: on the internet site of Bourgogne Romane she had found some pictures of the church in St-Christophe, showing an oculus in the façade of the church.

façade with oculus (2013)
As I had agreed with the webmaster of this site, he gives me credit for each of my pictures he uses by providing a link to our own website. And through this link the woman had got hold of our phonenumber. We had visited the church for the first time in September 2013, and a second time in April 2014. And because the oculus had nothing spectacular, I had not been bothered to take any detailed pictures; besides, in 2014 the oculus had been broken, and there was not much more left than a hole in the glass.

Oculus (2013)
The woman was somehow connected with the restauration of the church, and her question was: could I produce some pictures in which the oculus was better visible, so that the stained glass specialist could produce a new window resembling the old one as good as possible. Fortunately I've  taken all my recent pictures in NEF or RAW format, from which I save them as JPEG files as well. In NEF it is fairly easy to make acceptable enlargements, and adjust shadows, exposure, etc.

The broken window (2014)
That was not really very difficult: I went through my collection, adjusted the blow-ups as good as I could and send those pictures to the lady in St-Christophe. She was very content with the results and she invited us over to see the renovated church once the restaurations were finished. A very kind and charming idea of course, but often these sort of promises get lost with time.

We were pleasantly surprised when some weeks ago we received by post an invitation of the mayor of St-Christophe, M. Nicolas Bouthier for the inauguration of the church after the restauration. Who can ignore an invitation like this? We returned an email containinng an RSVP straight away.
When we arrived there at 16h00 quite a few of the 1100 inhabitants were waiting outside the church for the doors to be opened. We had spotted the mayor quite soon, as we had his wife. When we approached Mme Bouthier to introduce ourselves, she first looked a bit puzzled, until she realised that we might have had contact with her mother-in-law.

After the restauration (2018)
And that turned out to be correct; we tackled a woman with a typical "mother-in-law"-outlook, who happened to be the "old" Mme Bouthier. She remembered us well, was still grateful for our help and she was thrilled to bits that we had accepted the invitation.

Before and after
We were introduced to other people who had been involved in the restauration and from one moment to the other we were transformed from ordinary guests to guests of honour.

How many does one need to cut a ribbon?
By now we know quite well how these things work: the mayor gives a speech thanking everybody involved in the works personally and/or manually, being it the architect or local officials, followed by speeches by the architect, the priest, the delegates of various councils, etc.
When this was all over there was of course the inevitable verre d'amitié in the village hall, where we were treated as guests of honour as well. In a word, we did not regret for one second that we had contributed a tiny little bit to the restauration of one small part of this beautiful church.

Preparation of the Vin d'amitié