An extract on #esigaratrkiye
All the glass from the cathedral was removed in 1939 just before the Germans invaded France, and it was cleaned after the War and releaded before replacing. While the city suffered heavy damage by bombing in the course of World War II, the cathedral was spared by an American Army officer who challenged the order to destroy it.
Colonel Welborn Barton Griffith, Jr. questioned the strategy of destroying the cathedral and volunteered to go behind enemy lines to find out whether the German Army was occupying the cathedral and using it as an observation post. With a single enlisted soldier to assist, Griffith proceeded to the cathedral and confirmed that the Germans were not using it. After he returned from his reconnaissance, he reported that the cathedral was clear of enemy troops. The order to destroy the cathedral was withdrawn, and the Allies later liberated the area. Griffith was killed in action later that day on 16 August 1944, in the town of Leves, near Chartres.
The cathedral is still the seat of the Bishop of Chartres of the Diocese of Chartres, though in the ecclesiastical province of Tours.
Every evening since the events of 11 September 2001, vespers are sung by the Chemin Neuf Community.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Chartres Cathedral is the extent to which architectural structure has been adapted to meet the needs of stained glass. The use of a three-part elevation with external buttressing allowed for far larger windows than earlier designs, particularly at the clerestory level. Most cathedrals of the period had a mixture of windows containing plain or grisaille glass and windows containing dense stained glass panels, with the result that the brightness of the former tended to diminish the impact and legibility of the latter. At Chartres, nearly all of the 176 windows were filled with equally dense stained glass, creating a relatively dark but richly coloured interior in which the light filtering through the myriad narrative and symbolic windows was the main source of illumination.
In northern Europe it is common for the iconography on the north side of a church to focus on Old Testament themes, with stories from the lives of the saints and the Gospels being more prominent on the physically (and hence, spiritually) brighter southern side. Chartres is no exception to this general principle and the north transept portals, with their deep sheltering porches, concentrate on the precursors of Christ, leading up to the moment of His incarnation, with a particular emphasis on the Virgin Mary. The overall iconographical themes are clearly laid-out; the glorification of Mary in the centre, the incarnation of her son on the left and Old Testament prefigurations and prophecies on the right. One major exception to this scheme is the presence of large statues of St Modesta (a local martyr) and St Potentian on the north west corner of the porch, close to a small doorway where pilgrims visiting the crypt (where their relics were stored) would once have emerged blinking into the light.
As well as the main sculptural areas around the portals themselves, the deep porches are filled with myriad other carvings depicting a range of subjects including local saints, Old Testament narratives, naturalistic foliage, fantastical beasts, Labours of the Months and personifications of the 'active and contemplative lives' (the vita activa and vita contemplativa). The personifications of the vita activa (directly overhead, just inside the inside of the left hand porch) are of particular interest for their meticulous depictions of the various stages in the preparation of flax an important cash-crop in the area during the Middle Ages.