Église Notre-Dame De Toute Grâce Du Plateau D'Assy - History


Before World War II, the plateau d'Assy was known as a spa area, and was especially popular with sufferers of tuberculosis. At one point close to twenty sanatoriums could be found in the area. Some of these were equipped with small chapels, while others were visited by chaplains who catered to the sick. There was, however, no church for the area.

In 1935, Jean Devémy, then serving as chaplain to the sanatorium of Sancellemoz, hit upon the idea of building a church dedicated to serving not only the sick of the spas, but also the personnel who worked at them. With the blessing of the bishop of Annecy, Florent du Bois de la Villerabel, he decided to hold an architectural contest to design the new structure. The contest took place in 1937, and was won by the young architect Maurice Novarina. Novarina's plan was to use materials native to the region in the construction of the church; this would include various types of stone - including slate - and wood. The work would be given to local concerns. Construction began in 1938 and was for the most part concluded at the start of World War II.

Even as the church was being erected, Devémy was considering ways of decorating the new building. While he was considering his options, his friend, the artist and Dominican Marie-Alain Couturier, invited him to Paris to visit an art exhibition. Devémy was greatly taken with a stained glass window of Georges Rouault which depicted the Passion of Christ. Supposedly, when he measured the windows of the church upon his return, the Rouault window was found to be an exact fit for the structure. Devémy referred to this incident as the "miracle of Assy".

Notre-Dame de Toute Grâce du Plateau d'Assy was formally blessed in 1941; in that same year the crypt was opened for services.

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