The doors of the Madeleine are worthy of particular notice. They are of bronze, measuring more than thirty feet by sixteen. They are divided into compartments each of which illustrates one of the Ten Commandments. In the first, Moses commands the tables to be obeyed; in the second, the blasphemer is struck; in the third, God reposes after the creation; in the fourth, Joshua punishes the theft of Acham, after the taking of Jericho, etc. etc. The doors were cast in France, and are only surpassed in size by the doors of St. Peter’s.
On entering the Madeleine, the magnificent organ meets the eye of the visitor. On the right, there is a chapel for marriages, with a sculptural group upon it, representing the marriage of the Virgin. On the left, there is a baptismal font, with a sculptured group, representing Christ and St. John at the waters of the Jordan. There are twelve confessionals along the chapels, which, together with the pulpit, are carved out of oak. The walls of the church are lined with the finest marbles, and each chapel contains a statue of the patron saints. The architecture of the interior it is useless for me to attempt to sketch, it is in such a profusely ornamented style. Fine paintings adorn the different chapels. One represents Christ preaching, and the conversion of Mary Magdalene; another the Crucifixion; still another, the supper at Bethany, with the Magdalene at the feet of her Lord. Over the altar there is a very fine painting by Ziegler, which intends to illustrate, by the representation of persons, the events which, in the world’s history, have added most to propagate the christian religion, and to exhibit its power over men.
The Magdalene, in a penitent attitude, stands near Christ, while three angels support the cloud upon which she kneels, and a scroll, upon which is written, “She loved much.” The Savior holds in his right hand the symbol of redemption, and is surrounded by the apostles. On his left, the history of the early church is illustrated. St. Augustine, the Emperor Constantine, and other personages, are painted. Then follow the Crusades, with St. Bernard and Peter the Hermit, with a group of noblemen following, filled with holy enthusiasm.
Near the Magdalene there is a group of men who figured in early French history—the Constable Montmorenci, Godefroy de Bouillon, and Robert of Normandy. The struggles of the Greeks to throw off Mussulman rule, are represented by a young Grecian warrior, with his companions in arms.
On the left of the Savior, some of the early martyrs are painted—St. Catherine and St. Cecelia. The Wandering Jew’s ghostly form is upon the canvas, and, to come down to a later day, Joan of Arc, Raphael, Michael Angelo, and Dante each occupies a place in the mammoth picture.
The choir of the Madeleine forms a half-circle, and is very richly ornamented. The great altar is splendidly sculptured. The principal group represents the Magdalene in a rapturous posture, borne to heaven on the wings of angels. A tunic is wrapped around her body, and the long hair with which she wiped her Savior’s feet. This group of sculpture alone cost one hundred and fifty thousand francs.