I captured several hundred places of worship throughout Europe between 2012 and 2020. These areas gradually filled with quiet. The only sounds left are the regular drip of water dripping through the crumbling roof above a nave or the occasional gust of wind whistling through broken stained glass.
These quiet locations yet occasionally entice a tourist. In the past, prayers might be heard being performed in Latin at a German church, and children’s voices used to ring out to the ringing of bells in a French Catholic college. But who can guess what sounds might be hidden within a tomb in a former monastery in Portugal or within the walls of a crypt in the middle of the Italian mountains?
Why go to or take pictures of locations that are deserted or forgotten? Why have I focused my attention on locations where humans have left and why do I travel thousands of kilometers each year just to bring back pictures of them? To be shared, a passion must first be explained. Because sharing is exactly what this is about—sharing the feelings I experienced when I found places of worship that coexist peacefully alongside ancient ruins.
#1 Sweetheart, Let’s See Who’s Watering You: Occitanie Region, 15th, 16th, and 19th-Century Cloister
“I tremble if the location of a ruin seems dangerous. I am more liberated, alone, authentic, and attuned to myself if I feel safe and secure there. I miss my pal most there. Diderot.
“A monastery. the backdrop of an old-growth forest. The cross has been picked up, the tiles are nicely set, there are supporting beams, and the garden is overgrown with wild grass. Every location is where a picture is projected, creating an infinite number of images, including this one: a quiet location devoid of church bells or silent prayers where possibility and impatience, desire and tenderness, birth and end, reappear. There is nothing more priceless than this second, this picture, and the dream that it starts all over again. The hell with hidden agendas and petty tactics. The hell with the righteous and the unrighteous! Don’t blow your one and only chance. Enter this space under the sky with consciousness in the place that says yes, yes to the other, yes to love. One second of hesitation is worth a lifetime of regret. (Jankeleevich). Without your breath, your lover’s eyes, and your hands and tongue searching for one another, what would these lovely stones and vegetation be? In this location, the body and soul are blessed to reciprocate in a state of bliss, remarkable simultaneity, and reciprocal luck. Your silhouettes, resting in the aisle against a column, blended and came together. So frequently! Your lovely youth! Liliane Beauquel.
#2 The Floored Prayer / French, Occitanie Region, Chapel from the 11th, 15th, 16th, and 18th Centuries
#3 Unburdened Voices / Lombardy Region, Italy, 12th, 16th, and 20th Centuries Church
#4 French, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, 15th and 18th century chapel, Red Light, Green Light
#5 Detector Of Your Woes / France, Île-De-France Region, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, and 19th- Century Church
#6 The Last Stage of Thirst / Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, France, 14th, 15th, and 16th-Century Church
#7 Early 20th-Century Church, Germany, Saxony Region, Ready-To-Pray Trade Fair
#8 Mother Of All Knowledge / Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, France, Abbey from the 11th, 12th, 13th, And 17th Centuries
“I remember seeing a picture similar to this when I was a kid, though not quite the same.
I had sneaked into the church in my hamlet with a young companion, and we looked about the places that were normally off limits. We felt as though we had entered another century as we cautiously made our way through these hallways and stairwells. My grandmother was a devout Christian. She had religious pictures in her room, including Mary and Jesus on the cross. On that day, I was permitted to enter this abandoned realm through a back door, to explore its fascinating and terrifying symbology, and to see what lay beyond closed doors: a deserted, dilapidated building” Michelle Cloud
#9 Fascination / Centre-Val De Loire Region, France, 19th-Century Catholic School And Chapel
#10 A Waltz in Three Quarter Time / French, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, 13th, 14th, 16th, and19th Centuries Church
#11 Church from the 15th and 16th centuries, Grand-Est region of France
#12 The 20th-Century Chapel in Belgium’s Namur Province is titled The Glimmers Of Hope Are No Longer What They Used To Be
#13 Crypt from the 12th and 16th centuries, France, Grand-Est Region, Below Everything, Next To Nothing
#14 13th-century chapel in Italy’s Piedmont region, Gloriam Lucis
#15 13th-Century Church, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Region, France, Hand Me Over The Sky
#16 France, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Region, I Saw The Light
#17 The Foundations of Faith / French, Grand-Est Region, 18th and 19th-Century Chapel
#18 Truth On Earth / Church of the 12th and 13th Centuries, Lombardy Region, Italy
#19 The Last Address / North Region, Portugal, 21st Century Crypt
#20 Jesus, The Saints And All The Tremor / Italian, Lombardy Region, 16th and 17th Century Church
#21 It Will All Work Out / in France, Grand-Est Region, 12th and 16th Century Castle Chapel
#22 13th, 15th, and 18th-Century Church, Hainaut, Belgium: In Your Villainous Memory
#23 Contrast: Italian chapel from the 18th and 19th centuries, Lombardy region
#24 Early 18th and 19th-Century Chapel, Veneto Region, Italy: State of Mind
#25 Stars In The Eyes / Church from the 19th Century, Occitanie Region, France
“In single file and occasionally at night while carrying torches, we hiked into the jungle. She would then show up there on the moor. Small and stocky, surrounded by big, flat, mossy stones, and facing the ocean. Following the soggy porch and the drunkenness of the light, a ship’s hull rolled over above our heads to shield us from bad luck. Candles were still being burnt there after the regular Masses stopped: for a love wish, a school exam, a driver’s license, a medical exam, etc. When so many boats failed to return after the great storm of ‘77, I believe it persisted till then. We felt misled. Yes, that’s correct; the village actually abandoned the church after 1977” [Sylvie Robic]
#26 Close To Privileges / Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, France, 14th, 16th, and 19th-Century Castle Chapel
#27 19th-Century Chapel, Belgium, Namur Province, Combining the Useless with the Unpleasant
#28 20th-century crypt in Italy’s Liguria region, The Punishment
#29 Portuguese, Lisbon Region, 14th-Century Convent and Crypt, Moving Toward Oblivion And General Forgetfulness
#30 I Need You / Piedmont Region, Italy, 13th-Century Chapel
#31 Candle Songs from the 12th, 16th, and 19th centuries from the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France
#32 Monastery from the 17th and 19th centuries, Italy, Ombria Region
#33 Early 20th-Century Crematorium, Germany, Saxony-Anhalt Region, Two Doors, Only One Exit
#34 He Came to This Way / Trentino-Adige Region, Italy, Church from the 9th, 15th, 16th, and 19th Centuries
#35 Germany’s Thuringia Region is home to The Loneliness Of The Sleeper, a 21st-century crypt