Through the light oval windows of the dome, a white light falls upon the majestic baldachin, glorifying the real presence of Christ in the tabernacle.
Each section of the transept is enriched by a monumental painting of Trémolières and two pillars-walls structures, which on each side of the choir shelter two statues by Sarrazin representing, respectively Saint Bruno on the left and Saint John the Baptist on the right. The sculptor Pigalle drew the four Evangelists located in the pendentives of the dome.
Curves are everywhere in the structures and the decoration. The stucco and the gold leaf are generously spread and wood, cloth and marbles are extensively used.
Plan by F Delamonce in 1736, section of dome from the nave, notice the Munet's arch in centre, Archives départementales du Rhône
Resting upon 17th century walls greatly reinforced by Delamonce, this dome was erected according to the plans of 1736. It is note worthily for its high drum.
The inside of the dome is decorated with taste. Pierced by high big oval windows separated by arches, it is crowned by a discrete polygonal decoration. Golden palms occupy the corner of the windows while roses and elements of golden pilasters alternate on the cornice with many disconnections which form are the base of the drum. A garland of roses softens the transition to the four pendentives on which rests the entire structure, decorated in stucco, and recalling the theme of the Four Evangelists.
Conceived by the architect Delamonce and realized by the assistant architect Munet in 1735, the so-called Munet’s arch is designed to unite the choir and the transept whose elevations are quite different. It is supported by flyiing buttresses situated in two high chapels (not visible) especially built for this purpose in this intention.
Its original characteristic is in its shape, unique in two respects: it is both sinuous and on an oblique plane. It’s a very rare architectural device sometimes called a “cow horn”.
To better understand the need for the Munet’s arch, please consult the plan of the church by Delamonce in 1736.It appearance is enhanced from the side of the choir by two very strong oblique pillars, advancing before the walls. We can notice, in the inferior recesses, two statues of great angels made of stucco-covered wood from the 18th, one holding the one the Gospel and the other the Crown of Thorns. Also, please see sculpture of the "Agneau pascal" onto from choir.
Décor côté choeur : the "Agneau pascal"
The altar was designed by Servandoni in 1737 and modified by Soufflot who gave it its final shape in 1742.
It is a double face altar, so that services can be celebrated from both the side facing the monks as well as the side facing of the faithful.
To magnify the real presence of Christ, the tabernacle was built with the rarest of marbles.
The door of the tabernacle that opens onto the choir represents a pelican, symbol of charity. The door that faces the nave represents the Good Shepherd carrying a sheep in his arms.
On the left photograph, the altar viewed from the choir away the pillars of the baldachin.
In the two aisles of the transept are located two monumental paintings by Pierre-Charles Trémolières, completed in 1737 and placed in their current locations in 1741. They represent Christ’s Ascension and the Virgin’s Assumption into Heaven.
The magnificient frames were designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot and executed by François Vanderheyde. From the rocaille base roses and palms rise up in a continuous upward movement to the radiant “glory” of the summit.
This painting represents Christ rising to Heaven, glorified after his Resurrection from the dead.
At the bottom, a small group of apostles and the Holy Virgin watch at the Christ rising to Heaven, surrounded by two angels.
As with the painting of the Assumption facing from the opposite side of the transept, notice the contrast of colours between the warm colours of the earth and the cold colours of the heavens.
This painting represents the Holy Virgin, raised in her body and soul the glory of Heaven.
At the bottom, in a large wave of draperies, the apostles consider the empty tomb whereas the Holy Virgin reaches the divine world, surrounded by angels. Between the two sections, a small angel spreads roses. Notice the contrast between the warm, brown and red colours of the bottom and the cold, white and blue colours of the top of the painting.
Photos Jean-Marie Refflé, DRAC Lyon
Photos Philippe Dumont, Jean-Pierre Francisoud
These two statues of 1628 made of stucco-covered wood are the work of Jacques Sarrazin, conceived and made for the decoration of the church of the 17th century. They were transferred, undoubtedly in 1878, to the power full pillar-walls of the transept whose unhinged pilasters provide an appropriate frame.
These two masterpieces are characteristic of 17th century baroque sculpture in two respects : first they are works of movement, and second, of pathos. Saint Bruno in prayer seems to be offering God, by his gesture, his person and the world in a mystical renunciation. Saint John the Baptist seems to be seized, listening to a dialogue with God.
The soberness of the work is in harmony with the real religious message it is meant to convey. It is characteristic of the catholic Counter-Reform and the French religious statuary inof the 17th century.
The supporting stands (1746 – 1747) are the work of Marc II Chabry and are of a quite different inspiration. Through these angels, the graces of Heaven have very charming attractions. As the movement amplifies and as the decorative effect becomes important, the profane inspiration prevails in 18th century.
Photos Jean-Marie Refflé, DRAC Lyon