Wednesday 08 July 2020
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Tourist attraction reopens for local visitors

Tourist attraction reopens for local visitors

Saturday 06 June 2020

Tourist attraction reopens for local visitors

The Little Chapel has reopened to visitors, with the group now looking after it unearthing information about how it was managed during a previous pandemic - when Spanish Flu hit the island after the First World War.

The Chapel closed during the lockdown with a halt also brought to its fundraising efforts to pay for the continued work to protect and improve the site.

As it receives most of its funds from visitor donations, it is likely to take a hit this year with no one currently able to visit the island.

However, it has now reopened, and will be open for any local visitors between Wednesday and Sunday each week, between 09:00 and 16:00.

The Little Chapel will be closed on Monday and Tuesdays so it can be cleaned, and for any general maintenance work which needs to be carried out.

little chapel

Pictured: The Little Chapel.

The TLC Foundation which is now responsible for its upkeep said measures have been put in place to meet States' guidelines ahead of it reopening this week.

"All visitors must comply with the States’ strict guidelines on social distancing and hygiene practices for an uncontrolled site.  Visitors will need to follow the clearly-marked one way circuit, observe two metre distancing and use the hand sanitisers provided.  

"Only two visitors at any one time are permitted in each of the three levels. The Foundation would ask that all visitors refrain from touching the internal surfaces."

The Visitors’ Book has been removed for the time being but votive candles are available inside the Chapel. If anyone wishes to write a petition or name on a candle, they are advised to bring their own pen.  

The site is monitored by closed-circuit cameras and these will be checked regularly to ensure that the guidelines have been observed.

John Silvester, Chairman of TLC Foundation, hopes people will take the opportunity to visit.

‘We would like to encourage as many visitors as possible to the Little Chapel.  Along with every other Island charity, we have seen our income significantly reduced in recent months. 

"Everyone would help us greatly if they were to visit and make a small donation or perhaps light a candle as a tribute to those who have lost their lives and in gratitude for all those who have work so hard on our behalf to keep us safe.  Let’s fill the Little Chapel with candlelight’.

Little Chapel

Pictured: The altar dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, following the Spanish Flu Pandemic. 

The TLC Foundation has found candles and flowers left at the entrance to the Chapel during the pandemic, suggesting it has been a haven of spiritual significance for some people during the time of crisis.

The TLC Foundation has also drawn comparisons with a previous pandemic, which led to the dedication of the altar in the middle part of the Chapel in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

The below excerpt is from records kept in the Island Archive Centre and it relates to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

As World War I was ending, Europe was subject to an epidemic of influenza.  In Brittany, many hundreds of people died after falling prey to La Grippe Espagnole.  Agricultural students returning to their studies at the farm at Les Vauxbelets were thought to have brought the virus to the Island.

In 1904, the French Government had passed a law banning all faith schools.  In order to continue their teaching work, the Brothers of the De La Salle Order had to work in exile.  The first element of the school at Les Vauxbelets catered for French boys that travelled to Guernsey with the Brothers.  In 1906, the Brothers expanded the school to include local boys and agricultural students.

According to the entries in the diary written by Brother Charlemagne Léon, the Brother Director who led the Community of Les Vauxbelets at that time, the ‘flu virus had spread like wild fire throughout the whole school.  Doctor Candé , who was attending to the boys, warned that with so many being ill he was expecting that six or seven of them would most likely die.

Horrified at this possible outcome, the Brother Charlemagne Léon and Brother Athanase Emile went to the Chapel and prayed.  They also made the following vow . . . . .  ‘If the House was preserved from calamity, the Chapel  would be dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and her picture would be permanently on view in the House’.

Two weeks later, all the sick boys were back in their classrooms having recovered completely.  The middle altar of the Little Chapel has been dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour since that time.

Pictured top: The Little Chapel is open to the public again. 




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