There are so many wonderful places to visit in our region that do not appear in most guidebooks. However, with a little bit of research, one can find the most extraordinary of buildings in some of the smallest of towns. Such is the case with Montfarville. While reading other blogs about La Manche, I came across several articles about the Montfarville Church of Notre Dame. If you are coming to Cherbourg to see the sites, this is one excursion outside of town that you simply should not miss. Montfarville is a charming village of about 800 people in the north-eastern part of the Cotentin. It is famous for its beautiful church interior which, in its present form, dates from 1763 – see the inscription engraved above the portal that reads : « 1763 Messire C.Caillet, curé de ce lieu a fait bâtir cette église à ses frais. Priez pour lui » (1763 C. Caillet, the pastor, had this church built at his own expense. Pray for him). It was built on the site of an earlier Gothic building of which only the 13th century Bell Chapel remains. The building was blessed on February 12, 1764. After his visit to the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the priest of Montfarville called upon a local artist Guillaume Fouace, born in nearby Réville, to paint the ceiling and arches of the church. The commission was carried out between 1879 and 1881. The church is also known for its exceptional artistic statues of several saints beginning with the 12th century Virgin and Child in painted stone. She is greatly revered by the local community as “Our Lady of Consolation.” Tradition has it that in 1793 the statue was buried not far from the shore at Keiry or Landemer to protect it during the French Revolution. Once things returned to normal, it was returned to the church and placed in Chapel of the Holy Virgin. Other statues of note are those of Ste-Anne, also in painted stone from the 16th century and an anonymous female saint of the 15th century in plain white stone. There are four large, carved wooden statues of St-Paul, St-Charles, St-Maur (St-Maurus) and St-John the Baptist as a young man. The latter is part of an ornate woodcarving used to cover to the baptismal font. The high altar is sumptuously carved, painted and gilded in the purest Louis XV style as are the Communion rail and the magnificent Rood Beam “perque” bearing a 17th century crucifix. Again, the most interesting parts of a visit to this church are the 19 different paintings by Guillaume Fouace. It took two years for Fouace to paint the canvases depicting the life of Christ and that of His mother, drawing upon Leonardo da Vinci and Murillo for inspiration. Many visitors consider The Magi to be the finest of the paintings. I must agree as it caught my eye immediately after I entered the side door. If one enters the church from the west door you will admire in succession on the organ side of the church the first of the paintings as well as the stained glass windows created in the early 1920s by master glass maker, Charles Lorin whose father Nicolas Lorin founded the famous glass works of Chartres in 1869. The first three paintings by Fouace are The Presentation of Mary in the Temple, The Annunciation, and The Visitation. Between each painting is a stained glass window. The first three are of St-John the Evangelist, Blessed Nicolas Cléret who was vicar of Montfarville for 25 years and was martyred in 1792 for refusing to take the constitutional oath at the start of the French Revolution, and finally, St-Mark the Evangelist. The next four paintings are The Nativity (above the organ), The Flight into Egypt, Joseph and Mary Finding Jesus in the Temple, and The Dormition of the Virgin. Within the southern transept is the organ as well as the stained glass window depicting St-Maur in the year 524 at age 12 with his father entrusting him to the care of St-Benedict who spread the Benedictine order throughout France. The next three stained glass windows depict St-Augustine of Hippo and his mother Ste-Monica, Ste-Elizabeth of Hungary, and St-Isidore the Laborer. Above the high altar dedicated to the Virgin is Fouace’s admirable reproduction of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. On either side of the altar are statues of St-Peter and St-Paul. The next two stained glass windows depict Jesus Welcomed by Mary and Martha in Bethany, and Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Along the northern arches are the paintings of Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem, St-Peter Receiving the Keys to Heaven, and the Second Miraculous Draught of Fishes. Underneath the arches are the next three stained glass windows of St-Aloysius of Gonzaga receiving his First Communion at age 12 from St-Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, the window of Ste-Cecilia patroness of musicians, and the window depicting St-Paul’s Conversion to Christianity on the Road to Damascus. Above the Chapel to Our Lady of Consolation is the painting of Jesus Healing the Paralysed Man. Inside this chapel are several statues including the 12th century Virgin and Child, St-Marcouf, Ste-Anne, and the wooden baptismal sculpture of St-John the Baptist. The stained glass window here honors Our Lady of the Rosary and features St-Dominic and Ste-Catherine of Siena receiving the Rosary from the Blessed Virgin. The next sets of paintings along the aisle are of Jesus Healing the Blind Man from Birth, Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, and finally Christ’s Baptism. The last three windows depict St-Mark the Evangelist, St-Jean Eudes preaching in Montfarville in 1668, and finally the Evangelist, St-Matthew. Along the ceiling of the nave are four larger paintings of The Magi Following the Star, St-Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, The Sermon on the Mount and The Ascension of Our Lord. All of the paintings are listed in the Inventory of Historical Monuments (IMH).