I started today with a visit to the Basilica of Saint Remi. I had not heard of it before. But Antoine, the sacristan at St. Jacques church, told me with such enthusiasm that I should not miss it. So I took his advice. What a treat!
Saint Remi was Bishop of Reims in the 5th century. He was known for his great intellect, his skill in preaching, and his great kindness and charity. He baptized the Clovis, King of the Francs in the baptistry of a cathedral that existed on the same place as the 12th century current basilica. Recent archaeology onder the cathedral has discovered the site of the baptistry and today there is a small plaque in the floor in the center of the nave marking the place. Clovis' wife, Saint Clothilda was already a believer and the conversion of the King is credited to her prayer and the bishop's ministry. This set into motion the place of the church in the future nation of France.
I arrived just as the 11:15 Mass was ending. A few minutes after the priest had left the altar, the organ music began. a group of about 40 people were seated in the center of the nave in front of the big pipe organ. I later learned that it was a group of German organists and organ enthusiasts on "pilgrimage" visiting the great organs of northern France. Traveling with them are organists of some reputation in Germany who each take a turn giving a short recital. That was a real bonus. I decided to just walk around the church, let the sounds and sights inspire.
|A view of the nave towards the sanctuary. The vaulting of the ceiling is a les pointed arch. The rows of arches at the lower level are round. This is typical of the blended Roman/Gothic style.|
|A better view of the sides of the nave with the round arches inside the pointed gothic details above.|
|The main altar and the apse with the ambulatory surrounding it. The small structure in the center behind the altar is the mausoleum of Saint Remi.|
|Another "Calvaire" in another small side chapel.|
|The "crown", the only light hanging in the basilica is about 15 feet in diameter. It contains 96 candles, one for every year of St. Remi's life.|
|A sculpture behind the tomb of St. Remi depicting him anointing Clovis after his baptism.|
After lunch, I took the bus towards the cathedral.
I am going to add on to this post later. Check in again for the rest of it.
I'm heading out for dinner.
WEnt out for dinner last night to the same spot I had lunch.
Had a wonderful time. I got a table right next to the pianist, who was a university student majoring in music. Played both piano and the acordion. After we started to chat, he segued into "New York, New York", which brought about 5 patron from the other room to stand around the piano. Not knowing there was an American there, they struggled through the verses.
I had had enough. I went up to stand next to the pianist who was grinning at what was about to happen. I said, "On commence encore". And the pianist and I started in on the song all over again. Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening with these folks.
The highlight was at 11PM, when it finally got dark out, the "spectacle" was a out to begin. The whole bar emptied and went out into the street facing the Cathedral which is only one block away. To celebreate the 800th Anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral, there is a lazer show on the facade. It lasted about 30 minutes and included images of the whole cathedral in beautiful color. One thing I learned today, is that most of the grey stone cathedrals we see today were not first built that way. They polychrome, that is painted in bright colors. Statues highlighted, arches defined, reliefs, windows, all brightly colored. The light show included a range of music including chant, medieval organum, rennaissance polyphony, and contemporary original compositions. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
Here is a picture that I had to take my life in my hands to obtain. Standing in the middle of the busy street facing the cathedral, I had to wait for the traffic lights to change and the busses to get out of the way.
|On the south side.|
|The north-west corner showing the recent cleaning. It was purposely left this way to show people the future effect of the restoration. The work has begun at the rear of the cathedral.|
|Detail of the portal in the facade.|
|The space above the crossing of the nave and transepts. This supports the central tower housing the 14 bells, the largest weighing 2 tons.|
|View of the city from the roof.|
|Looking down on the flying buttresses.|
|Lest we think the medieval's had no sense of humor. The workers were allowed to carve and place caricatures of their own faces as their signature on the masterpiece they helped create.|
|The north side.|
|Our guide, Pauline, did a wonderful job in her explanations. She took this photo standing on the south transept.|
|The double rose windows in the facade. View from the interior.|
|The organ free-standing in the nave.|