I apologize for the light blogging, but sometimes fun gets in the way. My wife and I are blessed enough to be able to anticipate our 25th wedding anniversary by visiting our eldest daughter in France, and spending some time in Spain before returning to normal life in these most abnormal times.
I've been checking in on the news when I can. I suppose you could already guess my general take on it, if you've ever read here for at least seven seconds. But I might do a roundup about all that late this week.
That being said, it seems that the presence of Saint Louis surrounds our journey both before and during. I posted earlier on the very beautiful procession and vespers with benediction at the Oratory. Well, I wanted to link to a really nice article by Jennifer Brinker at the St. Louis Review covering the same. At the link is a beautiful slideshow of the occasion, too.
The celebration of St. Louis last weekend at St. Francis de Sales Oratory was certainly fit for a king.
Nearly 250 people in their Sunday finest — many young families, with women in dresses and lace veils and men in crisp suits — processed the streets surrounding the south St. Louis Oratory Oct. 19 with a relic of St. Louis IX, King of France. The procession was followed by a sermon from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, evening prayer sung in Latin and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
According Canon Wiener, it's "permissible and profitable" to venerate the relics of the saints. "The bodies of the saints were living members of Christ and Temples of the Holy Ghost. They will again be awakened and glorified, and through them God bestows many benefits on mankind," he said.
In his sermon, Archbishop Carlson described the city's patron saint as "a husband, a father, a man of justice and faith." St. Louis once said that the day of his baptism was far more important than being crowned King of France in 1234.
"St. Louis served his subjects with kindness, building hospitals and homes for those in need as well as serving food to the poor," the archbishop said.
St. Louis serves as a great example in making our city a better place.
"There are challenges in our city — poverty, violence, injustice and a lack of respect for human life, to name a few," he said. "With courage may we dare to dream how we can help. God is influencing every good thing we do."
As the procession proceeded around the oratory, neighbors on nearby Iowa Avenue came out of their homes to see what was going on. Esmeralda Herrejon and her family from O'Fallon were visiting friends when they heard the sharp blasts of a bagpipe. Herrejon, who attends Immaculate Conception Parish in Dardenne Prairie, said she had never seen an outdoor procession like this.
"I see it as a public display of faith," she said. "It's good to see people are still believers."
Here in France, there has been a surprising (to me, in such a secular country) amount of attention paid to the 800th Anniversary of the birth of Saint Louis. Sharon and I hit a sizable temporary exhibit on the saint at the Conciergerie in Paris. That seemed ironic to me, as the Conciergerie was in some sense the anteroom of the guillotine, at least for Marie Antoinette (I remarked to my wife that the Conciergerie is infamous for briefly detaining me-- and Marie Antoinette). The exhibit was very well done, and held some remarkable surprises, including the shirt in which he died, his cilice (discipline) and hair shirt, as well as his seal, and the charter of Saint-Chapelle. There were also reliquaries, containing his relics, and a thorn from the Crown of Thorns which of course he built Saint-Chapelle to house. Speaking of, there were some of the remains of the original statuary of Sainte-Chapelle, sacked courtesy of the Revolutionaries whose ideological descendants will kill us and sack our remaining churches soon. Finally, his personal Bible and Missal, and much, much more, as they say.
We also toured Sainte-Chapelle itself, which speaks of the personal piety and integrity of the great man in a form so beautiful it cannot be described.
Still in Paris, we visited the Cluny Museum (Museum of the Middle Ages), which puts into context the political, artistic and spiritual milieu of his day. If you ever get to Paris, this museum should not be missed, and particularly so for Catholics. The sheer number and quality of the items preserved are astounding. Among its treasures are a number of items from Sainte-Chapelle, and the reclaimed heads of the Kings of Judah that used to reside atop their bodies on the façade of Notre Dame-- sacked courtesy of the Revolutionaries whose ideological descendants will kill us and sack our remaining churches soon.
After Paris, we traveled to Angers, where the castle built by Blanche of Castile, Louis' mother, still sits majestically overlooking the Maine River. Saint Louis spent considerable time there in his youth. As great as this 12th century chateau is, and it is, the highlight of the place is the set of magnificent Apocalypse Tapestries, 66 huge panels depicting in great and moving beauty, pathos, and terror, the events recorded in the Apocalypse. Just the thing for my late mood.
As I posted yesterday, we were fortunate to come back to Paris for the Feast of Christ the King, assisting at the same Mass at which Saint Louis assisted, in the common language of our Church. Many different nationalities were represented there, but one common tongue, worshipping God as the Church has handed down. After Mass, the organ intoned the Salve Regina, in the arrangement known so well. As we all sang that hymn to Our Queen, in unison, together in song and in heart, it moved me to tears.
The restoration will come-- or something better. Be ready.
Just as the Apocalypse relates, and the tapestry so beautifully portrays, Christ, already victorious, will come to vindicate Himself, and us, at the end. The faith of Saint Louis is in the same God-Man in whom we believe. Our triumph will be in common if we hold true. May Saint Louis pray for us, may he ask blessings for our safe journey home and more so to our heavenly home.