PARIS AND THE CHURCH PART I



Friday, August 17, 2012


PARIS AND THE CHURCH PART I

6.00 am MUNICH HAUPTBAHNHOF - OUR TGV AWAITS DEPARTURE FOR PARIS

To love Paris is to be the essential conformist, for she enchants and captures the hearts of most normal folk who come her way. But for the Catholic, despite the ravages of the bloody Revolution, and the persecutions that followed in its wake over generations,and the still-prevailing anti-clericalism, the charm is redoubled.Our journey to Paris began on a chilly early morning from delightful Munich's Hauptbahnhof. Amongst all the deep red Deutsche Bahn trains interspersed with their white ICE trains , stood our solitary French SNCF TGV ready for its lightning run to PARIS GARE D'LE EST.

With no fuss at all, we left right on time and were soon out of the Munich suburbs  and out through the German countryside.Delightful villages, each with their several churches and their orderly appearance flashed by the broad windows of the TGV. It seemed no time at all, and we had crossed into France with its equally delightful, but markedly different villages, less orderly it seemed and often featuring only one church.As the sun rose higher in the sky and the TGV hurtled South , it became obvious that it was markedly warmer outside as the dress of the townsfolk briefly glimpsed , testified.As we approached our ancient destination the TGV slowed to a more polite speed , and in the distance on one curve , the Eiffel Tower was glimpsed , but we knew we were really close when , out of the heat haze, we saw the gleaming multiple domes of Sacre Coeur.
SACRE COEUR  SOARING ABOVE PARIS
The grey haired gent third from the bottom right is your scribe.
Sacre Coeur is a relatively modern church in this ancient city . It was built in the late 1800's in reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for all the atrocities in war which had been so much a part of French history externally and internally in the preceding century.It is a major active centre of great devotion .

Looking down from the great heights of Sacre Coeur , through the seemingly ever present brown haze onto the city of Paris, a number of other great churches can be discerned and one great "used to be"church.Let us consider that beautiful structure - dedicated to the Patroness of Paris, Saint Genevieve.



SAINT GENEVIEVE now desecrated and styled THE PANTHEON

It was the misfortune of this great Church, commenced in 1758, to come to completion in 1790, the year following the national insanity known as the French Revolution. It has been consecrated, desecrated, consecrated and desecrated again, and is used to glorify the heroes of the French Republic. The ultimate act of desecration is the placement of statuary in the Sanctuary in place of the High Altar dedicated to 
THE EXQUISITE DETAIL OF THE ARCHITECTURE IS WELL SHOWN IN THE ABOVE PICTURE.
Yet, for all the revolutionary fervour and anti-clericalism, there remains a somewhat schizophrenic character in French attitudes to the Faith. Just as on the left hand side of Saint Genevieve out in the street - not beside, but in the street, there is a statue to a much loved Parish Priest of the area, so inside the great church, there remain numerous heroic paintings of St Jean d Árc as shown below :
SAINT JEAN D'ARC IN BATTLE
SAINT JEAN AT THE CORONATION OF "HER"KING
THE EXECUTION OF SAINT JEAN D'ARC

CHRIST TEACHES THE FRENCH NATION FLANKED BY
ITS GUARDIAN ANGEL, WITH SAINT GENEVIEVE AND SAINT JEAN DÁRC
HOWEVER THE IMAGE NOW LOOKS DOWN UPON:



THE PREPOSTEROUS GLORIFICATION OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
WHICH IS OBSCENELY PLACED IN THE SANCTUARY
IN PLACE OF THE HIGH ALTAR

SOME IMPRESSION OF THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THE CHURCH'S
CONCEPTION MAY BE GAINED FROM THIS PHOTO

THE VERY RESPECTFUL AND WELL-INFORMED GUIDE
SENSITIVE TO THE THE HISTORY OF THE BUILDING
ALL OF THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN ON 9th September,2009
BY MY WIFE ROBYN DIXON
In the immediate vicinity of Saint Genevieve, is the much older and architecturally more unusual and, perhaps even more interesting,St. Etienne which is a visual delight, and still a fully-functioning church.

In later posts we will look at the great St. Sulpice in the Jardin du Luxembourg area, and the remarkable St. Eustache in the First Arrondissment.Both are great sources of inspiration.

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