Whilst strolling about in the city you will come across many chapels!
Chapelle des Pénitents Bleus (1626) - Blue Penitents Chapel
Boulevard Clémenceau – Esplanade du 8 Mai 1945
This chapel is also called Notre Dame de Grace (Our Lady of Grace) and is a genuine architectural construction from the counter-reformist period. It has successively been owned by the Hospice, that would be the place of worship for the local Italian community, and has finally become a venue for exhibitions. It is recommended that you take a look at the octagonal bell, the sculptures on the church’s walls, as well as the gargoyles and the characteristic windows. The octagonal bell was built between 1633 and 1650, whilst the decoration items inside in chapels were made in 1693 and 1694. The chapel has been listed as a historical monument since March 31st 1992.
Chapelle des Minimes (1633) - Minimes Chapel
Place Guibert, at the end of Rue de la Liberté
This chapel has recently been renovated by the city. It is 32 meters long and 6 meter wide and it used to be the headquarter of the Antipolitical People Society, which was a popular society that was recognized as the subsidiary company of the main center that was located at Rue Thubaneau in Marseille (1791). The chapel has a terrace on its left where a synagogue opens up to Verdun car park, and on the right where the Dance Academy faces the old old monastry. Don’t miss the beautiful features on the 300 year-old door at the entrance of the chapel.
Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs “Sainte Anne” (1630) - Black Penitents Chapel (Sainte-Anne Chapel)
From the renovated town square Place Esquiros, you can see the beautiful stone wall of this chapel with its genuine pediment from the counter-reformist period. The construction of the chapel began in 1630 for the “Pénitents Noirs” Brotherhood. However, this chapel was too big for this small community and the brothers had to run into dept in order to keep building the chapel that finally got completed in 1656. Being taken over as a « National Property » during the French Revolution, it was sold in September 1791 when it turned into a prison during the federalist period. It also passed through various hands before it got purchased by Priest Brunet who established in there the Saint Anne Brotherhood, hence the current name of this chapel.
Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs “Saint-Joseph” (1697) - Black Penitents Chapel (St Joseph Chapel)
When the Saint-Anne brotherhood settled into Saint-Anne chapel, the Pénitents Noirs brotherhood moved out into a different chapel just several meters next to it. The latter chapel, rapidly built up in 6 months, has less character than that of Saint Anne although it has kept its beautiful door made in carved walnut. In 1819, what remained of the brotherhood gave way to the Congregation of Saint-Joseph and the chapel was dedicated to this Saint in July 1821. The Saint Joseph statue inside the chapel, restored in 1950, is the same one that was in the niche just above the main door.
Masses schedules: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:30 am, Saturday evening at 6:00 pm and Sunday at 8:00 am.
Chapelle de l’Œuvre de Jeunesse (1872) - Early Work Chapel
Built between 1866 and 1871, the chapel was inaugurated in 1872.
The building is quite large: 26 meters long, 9 meters wide and 14 meters high. The expensive stained glass-windows, ordered in 1867, were designed by the great glassworker Alphonse Didron, who also designed the stained glass-windows of the cathedrals in Troyes and Soissons.
Chapelle des Pénitents Bleus « Notre-Dame de la Garde » - Our Lady of the Guard Chapel
Chemin Notre-Dame de La Garde
This chapel was built by the Pénitents Bleus brotherhood in 1610 and is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The chapel was blessed in 1613. Its design takes the shape of a cross. The vaults have a pointed top. The frescos and the porch were made in 1864. The altar is made of white marble from Carrare and it supports a wonderful Notre-Dame de la Garde statue in carved and golden oak offered by the Pénitents Bleus in 1630.
Strategic landmark for the navigation of sailors, the chapel is entirely decorated with old boat items from Provence as gifts from the sailors for their gratefulness to the Virgin of La Garde. The chapel was restored a few years ago but its position facing the spray makes it vulnerable.
The chapel is open to the public in summer time from May 15th to September 30th from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm and it is symbolically opened every year on December 8th for Immaculate Conception Day when a pilgrimage is organized.
Chapelle Sainte-Croix - Holy Cross Chapel
Chemin de Sainte Croix
Before the construction of the current semaphore, Sainte-Croix Chapel stood as La Ciotat’s first look-out place. Today there is nothing left of this chapel but ruins.
This chapel would belong to the White Penitents brotherhood and it housed a hermit who ensured the part of watchman, issuing signals when needed. Sold as « national property » in 1790, this chapel, that was made of two rooms and one backyard, was turned into a small cabin.
Hoops marks can be noticed on the north facade and also in the terrace, in the watchman’s little cell and on one side of the vestry vault.
A few years later, the chapel was bought and transformed into a small cabin. Another 50 years ago, the altar and the crucifix were still there but today there is only a piece of wall left. All along the path that led to the chapel, there were a dozen of oratories that indicated halts, along with one chapel called Saint-Monas whose vaulted entry is the only one thing left.
Built around a field filled with vineyards, fig trees and almond trees, Sainte Croix chapel stands as a cultural stopover for hikers.
Chapelle Saint Jean - Saint John Chapel
The Lumière family, who owned this patch of land, had the chapel built in 1935. With its 20 meter length and its 8 meter width, this modern style chapel is spacious and bright. It is the place of worship for the catholics who live by the seaside.
A big backyard underneath the reed screening allows for the celebration of religious services in summer.
Masses schedules: saturday at 5:00 pm and sunday at 11:00 am.
Eglise Notre-Dame de l’Assomption - Our Lady of the Assumption Church
The church was made off a previous small chapel and was constructed between 1603 and 1626. The front wall is made out of the stones from Couronne stone pit and it was restored between 1971 and 1975 whilst the inside of the church was being renewed. The building is 44 meters long and 25 meters wide. Its height is 22,5 meters. The church has three irregular naves, without any marked transept.
The church’s design belongs to an understated Roman style, recognizable from its semi-circled vaults and openings, its outside buttresses and its massive walls and pillars. Each pillar covers a surface of 9 meters square. The walls can be up to 2 meters thick. This is a plain outstanding building with three four-span naves, vaulted by intersecting ribs, semicircular arcs and square and massive piles.
The Roman door on the left side wall is a creation from the restoration. It dates back to 1972 and it is by the architect Massé. Above it, a beautiful Roman rose window can be beheld. The wonderful door of the main entrance is called « Consular Door ». This is the door through which the consul mayors would enter. The stone framing of this door, out of the rocks from Courrone stone pit, was sculpted by Jean Lenfant around 1616. The solid walnut door is a recent piece of work (1975) although it is a replica of the previous one.
In the bottom left, there is a marble statue: it is Notre Dame de Bon Voyage. The statue originally comes from the former Capucins monastry.
In the 18th century the church acquired a high altar by Fossati, a marble worker from Marseille. This is a remarkable piece of work due to its variety of marbles. The wooden choir is made of walnut and it dates back to 1649. Above the high altar, a statue of the Assumption can be seen, a 3,15 meters high piece of work by the statue maker Millefaut. It is worth noticing the sculpture’s very sensitive moves and the purity of the lines. In the middle-right hand corner, a painting by the Flemish painter Finsonius (1580-1632) represents the scene of the Deposition of Christ. This painting bears the year 1615. The carved wooden frame was sculpted in 1786 by Manoyer Fecit, a resident of La Ciotat.
The recently restored organs come from Les Accoules, an area located in Marseille’s Old Port, and were a donation made in 1663.
The pediment’s stained glasses and rose window are remarkable.
The fabric-made Stations of the Cross is a piece of work by Mrs Lorosière who donated it in 1976. The captions are from Paul Claudel.
The wall frescos realised in 1975 are pieces of work by the local painter Ganteaume. These frescos inside the church are reminders of our current world and more specifically of our city. On a triptych, the painter evokes the Liberation, the Redemption and the Resurrection.
In the bottom of the church, on each side of the porch, two paintings by Tony Roux, a local painter, represent the Man and the Woman.
On the right handside of the high altar stands the Christ of the Green Island that has been restored by Elisabeth and Rurick Bounatian Benatov and that is originally a piece of work by the scultpor Giambologna, himself a Michelangelo’s student.
Masses schedules: sunday at 10 a.m
Opening hours: monday to friday from 10 am to 12 am and from 3 pm to 5 pm – and saturday from 10 am to 12 am.
Telephone: +33 (0)6 81 97 17 97
Le Christ de l’Ile Verte - The Green Island's Christ
Since 2005, Our Lady of the Assumption church has been housing the Christ of the Green Island statue.
Pope Pius VII selected for Provence the statue of Christ by Giambologna, himself a Michelangelo’s student, that was brought to La Ciotat in 1821. That was the time of France’s Christianization, after the Empire. Pius VII asked for the statue of Christ to be placed on the remains of Ile Verte’s St Peter’s chapel. Christ statue stayed on Ile Verte (Green Island) until 1944’s bombing Liberation when It disappeared in the sea for a while. Run into by an underwater fisherman, the sculpture’s leftovers were handed over to the city’s museum. Dismantled and half wrecked, the statue attracted the attention of Rurik and Elisabeth Bounatian-Benatov, two Parisian architects who had a holiday home in the region. They transported the statue of Christ to Valsuani’s smelting plant in Chevreuse (a city near Paris) and with the Mayor’s authorization they started the restoration that resembles a « resurrection ». Rurick and Elisabeth fully financed the restoration and undertook research to the Vatican to know the history about this statue of Christ.
They found out that this sculpture was well and truly a masterpiece by John of Bologna a.k.a Giambologna.
The Christ statue is currently on the right handside of the high altar inside the church. A rebuilding project of St Peter Chapel in Ile Verte might bring the statue back to its place of origin.
Ancien Couvent des Capucins - Ancient Capucins Monastry
Avenue Frédéric Mistral
In 1606, after the decision of the consuls, the Capucins monks took possession of the antique Notre Dame de Bon Voyage Chapel under Bishop Jacques Turricella’s episcopate. The Capucins were a mendicant order from Italy during the 16th century and led a Penitent way of living. They were the only brotherhood to have the right to visit secluded sick people when the plague was stricking.
After the French Revolution, the monastry and its outhouses were sold and finally became, after many appropriations, a clinic called La Licorne.
Nowadays, the rose window is the only thing left from the monastry.