When my internet boots up there are several tabs already open and if Facebook is one of them in recent months I have not been very assiduous in my perusal of information posted therein.
However, the settings are such that I do get an e-mail when someone tags me or posts to my wall. And imagine my delight when my cousin Wayne tagged me in a report that he had found about the World’s Oldest playable organ – one that we had both visited whilst he was here doing my kitchen I believe.
I was in my mountain flat and made a snap decision to return to the Basilica of Valère above Sion just to see if I could get a better picture than we had on our last trip: although the answer to that is no (too much light coming through the upper window), I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Perched on two hill tops overlooking Sion in the state of Valais in Switzerland, the Castle and Basilica of Valère are sometimes known as the “Fortress” as it was a fortress protecting the residence of the canons of the Cathedral until 1798.
|Basilica of Valère|
|Looking from the back West wall|
The Basilica itself was begun in the early 1100s the continued in the Romanesque style until the early 13th century when a choir with a group of windows were added in the Gothic style. In 1526 a Crucifixion scene on the rood-screen was added and the vaulted ceiling was rebuilt in 1554. In the late 1800s, early 1900s the Swiss federal government financially supported the restoration of the Basilica. In 1987 the overall restoration of the castle and the Basilica were begun and should finish in 2017.
|St. Sebastian's altar - 1450|
Pope John-Paul II conferred the title of “minor Basilica” on the cathedral in 1987 and Holy mass is still celebrated.
But it’s the Pipe Organ that interests me most. Not only was organ my favorite instrument back in the days when I played, but this is the oldest playable pipe organ in the world.
It was built around 1435 in a ship’s-hull-shaped loft with buffet door panels painted by Peter Maggenberg (also around 1435!). It is the Rose window above that hinders one from getting excellent pictures especially in the afternoon as it is on the Western wall: some day I shall have to return in the morning for another try.
|Left: the mystic marriage of St. Catherine. Right Mary Magdalene at the feet of a risen Christ|
|built around 1435|
|from below one really sees the ship-hull structure|
In any case a lovely outing – and who would have thought that it would all be due to Facebook!
To hear the pipe organ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxwZTfILJDA