STE FOY, CONCHES-EN-OUCHE, EURE
On his way back from fighting the Moors in Spain, Roger de Tosny (the lord of Conches) brought relics of Saint Faith from Conques (ND, Sept. 2008) in 1034, so the church of Conches received a new dedication. The church was subsequently rebuilt in the Flamboyant style c.1530–1540, when it received a terrific glazing scheme. For once, Percy Dearmer’s Highways and Byways in Normandy does not exaggerate: ‘The glass is indeed so good that we will take superlatives for granted, and show our respect by following its meaning, which is indeed of exceptional interest. It is very intellectual glass’. The life of Saint Faith (Ste Foy) is in glass up in the choir and there is a splendid Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, accompanied by symbols of litanies, in a north window. But the window to remember is the fourth one along the south side, which depicts the Mystical winepress; it was given in 1552 by the king’s advisor, Jean Le Tellier. Christ on the wine-press treads out the grapes, and the wine flows into a vat; Le Tellier is depicted holding out a cup for the wine.
In chapter 63 of the book of the prophet Isaiah we read: ‘Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speaketh in righteousness, mighty to save! Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yea, I trod them in mine anger, and trampled them in my fury; and their life-blood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment’.
Read and reflect on Isaiah chapter 63; to accompany the liturgy on Good Friday, ask the incumbent for (old) English Hymnal No. 108, ‘Who is this with garments gory’. Unfashionable though it is to say so, Jesus redeemed us by his Blood (Ephesians 1.7).