The Light of Ronchamp

The chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp

Picture credit: Gili Merin,

I once met a man in Johannesburg, South Africa, by the name of Peter Eliastam. I was told that he became a Christian having visited Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France. He had come upon the church early one morning, and the play of the dawn light through the coloured windows in the empty interior precipitated a metanoia moment, a moment of decision. It was a meeting with the Risen Christ, but it was also inseparably a meeting with beauty. The story was told often amongst the charismatic evangelicals I knew at the time, and it seemed more poignant because this man was a Jew. He was also a graphic designer, typographer and poet: a quiet, intelligent artist who had encouraged me early on in my own career.

He created landscapes with hand lettered scriptures and poetry.

Writing about Le Corbusier in my last post suddenly brought this story to mind: Le Corbusier understood light, Christ is the Light of the world, and the light streaming through the windows in Ronchamp brought Peter to The Light.

It was all a long time ago. I thought it may be useful to write it down as a tribute to a good man, as well as to a visionary architect through whose work light continues to shine.


Picture credit: Gili Merin,



Photographs with appreciation to archdaily. Photographer: Gili Merin

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