The Spirituality within the Art of Cathedrals in Paris, France
Parisian Cathedrals gave a new meaning to sacred beauty. I have never been a particularly religious person, and in this regard the religious aspect of the cathedrals we went to see was difficult for me at first. Visiting sacred sites that hold the capacity of faith that Saint Chapelle, the Cathedral at Notre Dame and Le Sacre- Coeur contain, created a feeling of spirituality which I did not know I could experience. The image of people from all over the world, as the tourists at these sites were, was a powerful presence of faith. The magnitude of artistic creation in these building and the beauty of so many people worshipping and admiring the history behind the architecture, sculpture and stained glass was moving from both an artistic angle and a spiritual one. During the visit to each cathedral I spent time by myself taking in what I felt was important and visually stimulating. At each site I had a different impression and recorded my thought in my journal and the site in photographs.
Taken from May 14th, 2002 of my Journal.: "The second day of site seeing in Paris, we visited the Chapel of St. Chapelle and it was a truly remarkable experience. The basement, which served, as the servant's prayer chapel is amazing in itself. It is more delicate and simplistic, although not as well preserved or revered as the second floor chapel. The first floor chapel houses the gift shop for the tourist, it is clearly not as renowned as the upstairs chapel. The panels of stained glass and painted pillars with the arced ceiling, created a surprising kind of awe and silence among the many tourists. St. Chapelle was the first sacred site that we visited on our 3-country tour, and so I think that even though I do not look back on it as the most architecturally magnificent, it certainly stands out clearly in my mind. The 4 walls of stain-glass paneling, detailed with gold leaf and enclosed in an array of shapes, holds true in my memory. With detail painted and etched into glass smaller than 1"x1", the stories came out of the glass with an ease I would not expect from such a landmark. I was touched by the reverence that the crowds of people gave the masterpiece. The silence which filled the sacred room, awed me as much as the artwork itself.
|Notre Dame Cathedral|
|The size and architecture of Notre Dame was far more elaborate than Saint Chapelle but the crowds created a more disruptive atmosphere. Although the austerity of the rain outside made the day less than comfortable, the wet wondering tourists inside created a hush appropriate for the dark, historical cathedral.|
|These are all Photographs that I took from various angles outside of Notre Dame, the interior photograph is of sculpture of the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus, after his crucifixion|
The Basilica gave me a unique feeling of spirituality through not only the facade and interior architecture of the building itself, but the music. I was fortunate to hear a mass sung by the nuns of the Basilica and it silenced my curious eyes for a while. Even though it was in French and I was unable to understand the prayer, the music which they created held spiritual meaning as music even though it lacked a literal message for my English speaking ears.
|Entry 4: May 16th, 2002 During the morning of the 16th part of the group went and saw Montmarte and Le Sacre-Coeur, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. We climbed all the steps; I walked around the courtyard area behind the Basilica and also listened to the nuns inside, which was a privilege to hear. In the afternoon, I took a taxi and then walked to the Picasso Museum. I think the Musee' de Picasso is probably the only major attraction, where there was not an easily accessible metro station. Nevertheless I was very impressed by the museum and found it to be well worth the walk. I enjoyed getting to see parts of the Northern neighborhoods and shops of Paris, out of the major tourist vaccinate. It was also nice to do something on my own, and just take in Paris individually without any specific direction. Dinner followed the museum, at a lovely Parisian Brasserie and a restful evening.|
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