Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Say A Prayer For Me Tonight…

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One of our favorite things to do before traveling is to view old cinemascope movies filmed in cities we’ll be visiting. For Rome it might be Three Coins in the Fountain or Roman Holiday, both of which make one reel, pun intended, at the automobile traffic of today. You’d think no one even had a car during the filming of those movies.
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For Paris I think of Gigi, with Maurice Chevalier, Leslie Caron and Louis Jordan. In the film Leslie Caron sings Say A prayer For Me Tonight, which is the only catchy way for me to segway into the subject of churches for this post. She was praying to become engaged instead of becoming a mistress. She should have been praying directly to St Genevieve, patron saint of not only Paris, but virgins; however, that’s neither here nor there in relationship to this post.
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Paris is filled with churches and one wonders where to start. If you like to visit churches, as well as museums while traveling, here are only a few you might consider. I don’t think you can get away from the idea of visiting Notre Dame, and the Sacre Couer in Montmartre is a must too. If you’re a fan of the Da Vinci Code you might consider looking at St Sulpice. Since Boulevard St. Germain is so integral to the Left Bank, I found myself taking a quick peak into St. Germain also, but at this writing, it’s undergoing a major renovation, so there is not much to see.
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With all it's history, Notre Dame has its place on any tourist's itinerary, but I admit that it was especially gratifying to attend a service there, and feel the tiniest bit a part of that history myself. Even for those with purely architectural interests, Notre Dame provides a thrill. No matter what the perspective, it is a magnificent building. It's setting on the Ile De La Cite only adds to romance.
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No matter how much I enlarge this photo of Sacre Coeur, the Montmartre Basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart, it's not enough to fill the space in this blog entry. Sorry, but for now this is it; all my other photos of it were made into slides. But since I have been successful in taking digital photos of other slides, that will be my next project, so the interior can be shown.
The Da Vinci Code novel and movie have put St. Sulpice on the map in terms of exposure to tourism. I couldn't remember details from either, but St Sulpice was on my list of places to explore nonetheless. The church looked medieval, so it seemed a good location for a 2000 year old conspiracy mystery. It wasn't until I found myself standing in front of the Pieta statue in this church that I could make the connection. A very important element of the storyline may have been conceived on this spot. Now I need to rent the film from Netflix again, so I can see exactly how it was used with the cameras rolling. Whether seen from the back or the front, this structure is imposing.
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This is the only Pieta that I have ever seen that includes Mary Magdalene. When you consider the storyline, the placement of her hand is stunning.
St. Germain Des Pres is the namesake for Boulevard St. Germain in the French Quarter. It has been through so many transformations that it is difficult to identify in terms of architectural style. Starting out as an abbey in the 6th century it has seen its share of history. Plundered and set on fire by the Normans, it caught fire again during an explosion of stored saltpeter. It was rebuilt again in the 11th century and still has its bell tower from that time; one of the oldest still standing in the country. The interior reminds me of some Victorian churches I've seen. It's most interesting feature to me was the statue of Our Lady of Consolation which appeared to be from the 12th or 13th century. Rene Descartes, the father of modern philosophy was buried in a side chapel, but as mentioned previously, it was being renovated at the time of this visit and was unavailable for viewing.
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