Chapelle de l'Annonciation Nice France

Also known as the Chapel of Saint Rita, this lovely building is located on Rue Poissonerie. One of its principal attractions is the stunning faded white bell-tower. The area probably took its name from the presence of merchants selling fish or other seafood. The term Annonciation means Assumption in English and refers to the belief that the Virgin Mary was taken up to heaven in body and soul. Please do not confuse it with the Annunciation, which is when the archangel Gabriel informed Mary that she was to be the mother of Christ. These two doctrines are the most popular and strongest in the Catholic Church, and have been immortalized in countless churches' names, books, paintings and sculptures.

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Saint Rita is the patron saint of Nice and of hopeless causes. One can only ponder why she was chosen. She is not even French, but the heavy Italian influence in Nice might have weighed in. She lived between 1381 and 1457. Called the Saint of the Impossible due to the power of her prayers, she joined the Augustinian order that were set up in the XIth Century based on precepts set by St. Augustine. The fact that the Feast of the Assumption occurs during the month of August on the 15th probably lends them more importance. She was beatified in 1627 and canonized in 1900.

The history of the church resembles in some sense Saint Rita's, because events always conspired to temporarily shut it down. The building used to be an old parish church before becoming part of the Benedictine order of Saint Pons who used it until 1605 when they gave it to the Carmelite Fathers. They established a church dedicated to Our Lady of Mont Carmel. Sadly, the French Revolution came around and Nice suffered quite a lot during this period losing a lot of her artistic and religious wealth, as she was a royalist haven. It became a depot in 1792. The building lost its status as parish church in 1806 and was damaged by fire in 1834, when it took 10 years to restore the lustre after which the church was given to the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. Sadly, services were stopped in 1901 until 1914 when the Oblate Fathers reopened it and dedicated it to Saint Rita.

Moving inside, one can only gaze in wonder and pause for a moment that hopeless causes can come true. There was a lot of restoration done in the XVIIth Century, which uncovered a lot of the art that was lying under dust and grime. What is uncovered is just beautiful as the marble work is highly detailed. The principal style on view is Italian Baroque art. One can admire every facet of the building from its doors to floor and ceiling, especially the arches and cupolas. The large window in the bell-tower displaying the bell itself cannot but attract your attention as you walk towards the church.

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