A church in the city is a bit like a lighthouse, the top of a mountain or a characteristic sign that allows a different orientation than the only and personal faith.
Around Notre-Dame-des-Enfants we are already in the process of redesigning the road and sidewalks. In Nîmes, as elsewhere, whether you are a Christian or not, churches have a prominent place in everyday life. In the heart of the Beausoleil district, a church is in trouble and its defenders are starting a fundraiser. It takes 800,000 euros to make the building safe, but above all to repair it. Before we talk about work, let’s talk about history.
That should not have been the name of the magnificent Church of Notre-Dame-des-Enfant. From 1932 a church was to be built, but as we were then according to the law of 1905, which separates the church and the state, it is the Foundation that has built and maintained the building. In 1937, the continuation of the work faced with financial difficulties, the youth movements and the children of the diocese mobilized to raise funds. Their zeal and search were so fruitful that the bishop at the time, Monsignor Girbeau, decided that the new church should be called Notre-Dame des enfants.
Work resumed in 1941. The stained glass windows were installed in 1943 and the statue in 1946. The original project was to name it Saint Félix after the first bishop of Nîmes, but it will take the name of the local children who did everything for it. Better, it’s a neighborhood that did not exist. ” In the 1930s, when the first houses were built, there were only vines and horticulture. Three families owned the land notes Michel Delichere, an active member of the parish.
Then there was the war and the restrictions, time passed, but it was finally inaugurated in 1948 because it was therefore built in two stages. For Michel Delichere, ” It was used as a barn and that may be why it has problems today. There is a very strong connection that binds the church to the neighborhood and its inhabitants, a bit like Nemausus in the Nouvel except that here it is a different architecture. »
The diocesan association could not finance the work, the church had to do it. ” We want to create awareness among the 400 ward members who have received a sacrament there, but we want to appeal to everyone! We are launching a towing campaign in the 2,500 mailboxes in the neighborhood assures Michel Delichere.
For Father Couvas, parish priest for the church, but also for the parish complex Nîmes-Sud (eight parishes) ” People are very attached to the church. It is the image of a story and everything is from the time of construction. Worship is still celebrated every Sunday at 9.45, weddings, baptisms, funerals, communion … The parish has even made the church available to the Romanian Orthodox community. We have a very nice heritage here and I’m not just talking about domes, mosaics or stained glass windows! For worship on Sunday we are between 100 and 150, but we could be more if safety does not remove us from many seats. »
So we have to solve the problem. But what problem? Apparently not much, nothing or almost nothing is going to ruin the beauty of the place. Water, insidious, but so necessary for all life, however, does its work there, leaving some damage. A teacher-researcher at the École des Mines d’Alès, Sylvie Ranwez is aware of advanced fragility. ” Our church is sick, it is not condemned, but it must be treated quickly. Concrete splinters due to moisture, infiltrations, reduced waterproofing, weak joints, moss and lichen on the outside … The chloride in the concrete affects its solidity and its poor PH leads to carbon dioxide. »
The dome is only 9 centimeters thick. Although the solidity and stability of the building are not questioned, it is impossible to destroy everything to rebuild. ” We want to clean the concrete in the domes and then repair the ones that are blown up. Take over cornices and external ducts and remove asbestos from what is needed, redo the electrical installations, paint and clean continues Sylvie Ranwez. Because there is 100,000 euros only for the scaffolding, so you might as well do everything at once.
At the cultural heritage architect Bruno Jouve, the estimate of the total construction site is around 800,000 euros. ” We have the faith and hope to raise at least half the sum, the Episcopal Council can not help us, but perhaps the Foundation can borrow with a guarantee if we succeed in finding a large part of this money. Since 2017 and the start of the investigations, 40,000 euros have been needed to get there.
Anne de Beaurepaire is ready and knows that her neighborhood will respond. ” We wrote several letters, some to ordinary parishioners, others to local residents. We do not want to be too aggressive in asking for help, so we go little by little. We open the church on Fridays in May and June between 15.00 and 18.30, then on 24 June and 1 July from kl. 20:00 to Church Night, where we will set up an exhibition to remind you of the collection. In September, we will take stock and see the procedure to be followed. »
Cupola should be seen without a doubt, but preferably on a clear sunny day. Statue of Mary and children not to be missed because extraordinary and signed Louis Botinelly. Incredible stained glass windows made by Charles Borie. Mosaics and cross stations are the work of Jean Gaudin. So many reasons (was it necessary anyway?) To convince even more undecided about the donation!