As you can tell from the title and pictures, this post is all about the churches and we are currently up to 4 in 7 days – I guess that’s what happens when you lose 3 members of your immediate family within 6 months, the urge to go to church is very strong. Having said that, the experience here is definitely highlighted by the magnificence of the churches and cathedrals that we have seen, with each visit being to various locations around Paris. I have already posted photos and details of Notre Dame but I have to say that the smaller churches ( and I use the word smaller very loosely ) are every bit as magnificent in their own ways.
We were, of course, determined to find the Church of Saint Genevieve ( the photos above were taken from there ). This is the church that we found by accident on our last visit in April this year that left such a lasting impression that Beth took the name of Genevieve as her confirmation name. As you can see, the interior of the church is every bit as lovely as the larger, more well known. The tomb pictured is the actual Sarcophagus in which Saint Genevieve was originally interred ( her remains were later cremated and spread across the Seine ). This minor detail doesn’t stop the faithful from honouring this relic – the sarcophagus did hold her remains after-all, and the church is a very popular as well as beautiful one.
We also managed to find a little church in central Paris whilst shopping – as you do! We wandered in just in time for mass – it also coincided with the day of Dad’s funeral in Australia so felt like it was meant to be. This little church was very quiet, the people were obviously local and many were holding rosary beads, something we hadn’t noticed in the other, slightly more international churches. Plus the atmosphere and ‘picture’ presented inside this church was an interesting contrast to the rampant capitalism going on outside! Can’t remember the name of this church, we weren’t expecting to visit and there were a number of beggars outside that we had to try not to fall over on the way out – but we certainly won’t forget it in a hurry.
The last church we visited ( so far, I have a feeling there will be more ) is connected to the Church Of Saint Genevieve. This church is within walking distance of where we are staying so was perfect for Sunday Mass. Of course we managed to choose the time again for the French mass ( difficult to get out of bed when there is no light until 9.30am )! Basically, this means that there is plenty of time for thought and gazing around at the lovely surroundings – not me of course, I was concentrating!
One thing that all these churches have in common, regardless of age ( and some are very old ), wealth of the area, physical size, patronage ( and the French sing more than we do ), the churches are all magnificent. Intricate wood, marble and stone carvings, amazing stained glass windows, beautiful altars and alcoves plus murals, paintings and statues depicting saints and stories that cannot fail to simply inspire. And then there is the Church organ, always playing loud and proud from above.
For us, with the year that we have had, these churches have truly made a difference to the beginning of our trip when we were all a bit heart sore. They have welcomed us, rallied our spirits, allowed us to grieve in our own ways and inspired us. We have been awed, amazed and truly impressed.