This is a photo of Notre-Dame de la Treille in Lille, north of France. In 1854, the idea of building an imposing basilica on this site dedicated to the Virgin Mary was born. Lille had been known for the miraculous statue of the Virgin protected by an iron trellis (hence the name “Notre-Dame de la Treille” – Our Lady of the Trellis) since the Middle Ages.
The 13th Century Gothic style, with the cathedrals of Reims, Amiens and Chartres as references, was imposed on the architects. The initial project was massive: 132 metres long, with spires reaching up to over 115 metres. However, wars and financial difficulties soon put an end to these plans. With the creation of the bishopric of Lille in 1913, the basilica became a cathedral, but the project, although reduced to more modest proportions, began to drag on and the cathedral remained unfinished.
It was not until the 1990’s that public funding allowed for the completion of the main facade, inaugurated in 1999. Designed by the Lille architect Pierre-Louis Carlier, it is the result of great technical prowess, made possible by the collaboration of Peter Rice (engineer for the Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Centre in Paris). The central section is composed of a 30 metres high ogive covered with 110 sheets of white marble 28 millimetres thick, and supported by a metal structure. From the inside, this translucent veil reveals a surprising orange-pink colour.
At the top, the glass rose window based on the theme of the Resurrection is the work of the painter Ladislas Kijno. The iron doorway is by the Jewish sculptor Georges Jeanclos.