Thursday, May 16, 2013

a hipster Mary, Chaggal, Hitler, a cyclop abbey--and yes, Joan of Arc!



Before going into today's treasures from our pilgrimage through the French countryside, I want to share another wonderful image of Mother Mary, from yesterday's visit to Amiens:

I absolutely love her smile and how she's pointing to Jesus as if saying (a very motherly thing), "hey, did you hear what he just said?"  
By the way, I learned that this "style" of pose is called "hipped" because of its posture. How appropriate! I don't know any mother that has not held their young child at some point by posturing the son or daughter on her hip!

Today began with a visit to the Armistice Museum, just outside of our home base of Campaigne. This is where the Germans surrendered to the French at the end of WWI, and where the French surrendered to Hitler as they advanced into France during WWII.  It was quite provocative and 
I'm still pondering emotions from that one.
From there we drove to Soissons, where 80% of the town was destroyed by German artillery at the final retreat of the war. The cathedral itself was so seriously damaged that the Michelin Battlefield Guide declared it "beyond hope of repair" at the end of WWII.  Yet it still stands!

artillery shell on the facade of the cathedral

Also in Soissons, we visited St. Jean desVignes Abbey, or rather -- its remains. Only the facade of the Abbey church remains, but what a sight it is! I've never seen anything like it. It was huge, and still felt alive. Perhaps its because I kept thinking that it looked like a mythical one-eyed cyclop overseeing the valley before it! 


Also, I am obsessed with the vast yellow fields we keep driving by all over the countryside, a crop we think is mustard, although some of the sources I've read call it rape seed -- which turns into rapeseed oil used for cooking oil, paints, animal feed, margarine. All  I know is that I keep taking pictures hoping one will capture its awesomeness, but alas, I don't think it's possible!


As MarySue noted today, our great cathedrals are growing in stature and beauty by the day, like a major crescendo on our great Gothic French cathedrals pilgrimage ! Our finale today was Notre Dame de Reims, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption.





 Joan of Arc was everywhere. The Reims Cathedral is where Joan of Arc brought the man who was to be declared King of France--and where a long line of French kings have been coronated. Today we saw Joan in traditional form, and as part of an exhibit by contemporary artist Greg Tricker:


St. Jeanne, la colombé: St. Joan, the dove