Monday, April 18, 2016

PARIS AND THE CHURCH PART V

PARIS AND THE CHURCH - PART V

Under a clear blue sky etched with vapour trails, the beautiful gilt dome of
the Royal Eglise du Dome at Les Invalides stands forth in the early morning.
NAPOLEON'S FINAL DEFEAT

The civilised world had longed for the day when the little Corporal, Napoleon, who called himself Emperor, would be no more.He had been definitively defeated TWICE. He resurrected himself politically and militarily after the first defeat, but his imprisonment on Elbe after the second defeat put any further shennanigans out of the question. Nevertheless, it was not until his defeat by Death and the need for his burial that the world could breath easily.


The gloriously ornate Dome of the Royal Chapel
But, at home in his "adopted"France , what was to be done with the little Corsican Corporal's remains? With the remains of the man who had set Europe on fire and brought about the death of hundreds of thousands by his demented ambitions?The man who had imprisoned two Popes and tried to re-fashion the Catholic Church at his own convenience and whim?

Paris had a location that the authorities decided was appropriate for the man whose personal glory had for a time been synonymous with the Glory of France. Les Invalides had been built at the instigation of King Louis XIV by an order given in 1670. The object had been to provide a hospital for retired and sick soldiers of the King's Army.The project was expanded as it was being built and itwas not completed until 1676.The design incorporated 16 courtyards.The idea of a Chapel for the veterans was then conceived and this was completed in 1679 and it was titled Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides.

The Royal Chapel
N.B. Note the size of the man in contrast to the size of the ornate doors!
Absurdly as it seemed he, an employee, was knocking on the colossal door to gain entrance!
The King then decided to add a private Royal Chapel, known as Le Eglise du Dome and it is its dome which now dominates Les Invalides. It was finished in 1708. King Louis-Philippe decided that the remains of Napoleon , who died in 1821 , and had been interred on Saint Helena island, should be re-interred here. In 1840 he was interred in the Chapelle Saint-Jerome at Les Invalides pending completion of his final Tomb.This was prepared under the Dome in a grand crypt open to the ground floor of the Royal Chapel by a circular opening. The word grand cannot in my humble view be  applied to his Tomb - a giant red quartzite Sarcophagus  sitting upon a massive green granite base. My initial inclination on seeing it was to laugh.
The thing is preposterous especially for such a little man - it is as if the Allies had done it to ensure that the little so and so never got out again!


The magnificent entry doors closer view.


There is one final delightful significance about the thing, here are the remains of the little monster who brought death and destruction to millions, who sought to re-fashion the Church in France according to his personal whim and imprisoned and bullied two Popes, plundered the Eternal City and on and on, and where is he buried? In a hole at the foot of a truly grand Altar surmounted by the Cross of Christ ! Priorities more nearly right at last. But then, a number of members of Napoleon's family and the generals who served under him are also buried here. As if all the architects of Europe's misery should be honoured!


"...and I will make Thine enemies Thy footstool...."
THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS
Of course, given the little monster's record one has to look at the French again for celebrating his memory so. After all, Adolph Hitler was even more "successful"in murderous outrage than this other little Corporal, but the Germans could not bear the thought of him being glorified in monument. Even his Party's insignia is illegal in modern Germany. Not so the  Napoleonic insignia in modern France! Yet the world still looks at the Germans through narrowed eyes -  but not so the French!. Ah well!


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