Monday, December 20, 2010

Babies, Belltowers & Higher Altitudes

Slip sliding our way back down the mountain, we stopped at the church we had passed on the way up. This church, which overlooks the church in the photo, is more rightly called a temple—the Waldensians dogmatically held that the church is the people; the buildings they met in were therefore called temples.
In front of the church…um, temple…there is a fountain, with a large Huguenot cross attached. Babies were placed on this cross and dipped in the fountain—surely a chilly experience…

In contrast to the dark and ornate Catholic churches, the Waldensian temples were typically very simple and light-filled. In the time this one was built, it was forbidden to build any structure higher than the Catholic church. The Waldensians, thumbing their noses at this restriction, built their temple squarely and defiantly on top of a cliff overlooking the Catholic church.

The Catholic Church, not to be outdone, measured their bell tower, and then the Waldensians’ bell tower. Since the Waldensians’ was lower than the Catholic Church’s, the structure was allowed to stand. And, because the Waldensians were forbidden to live below a certain altitude (the law confined them to the higher ones, presumably to kill them off by cold and famine), the church could remain. And so, to this day, a community of Waldensian believers worships in this temple, on this mountain.

1 comment:

  1. Cool shots! I painted this church when I was there and someone bought it right on the spot. I asked them to donate to my OM account. It's so pretty up there with such a rich history.