Tag Archives: religion

The Major Basilicas of Rome

The first post of this series will link to all our adventures in the city.

For someone who grew up Southern Baptist, like me, understanding the complex hierarchy of churches within the Catholic tradition can be a bit bewildering. Having visited the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican during my 1994 tour, I was aware of that church as a particularly special one. What I hadn’t realized was that three other churches in Rome have nearly the same stature (in one case even greater stature)!

Our opportunity to visit two of these churches came on our first full day in Rome. We spent the time before lunch at the National Roman Museum, and then we paused for a delicious lunch at La Mela D’Oro, right by Saint Mary Major. We were delighed to discover that people with celiac disease can find safe food at most restaurants in Italy. The food culture of Italy makes it particularly important not to force people to eat separately from their friends and family.

Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major

August 28, 2021

From Piazza dell’Esquilino, Saint Mary Major looks like a pair of twin chapels, bisected by an obelisk.

Our first view of Saint Mary Major was from the Piazza dell’ Esquilino. I’ve grown accustomed to the French Gothic style from our months in Paris, and I’ve come to expect a high central nave with some flying buttresses and maybe a couple of towers. Saint Mary Major looks nothing like that. From the northwest, one is looking at the apse, a curved structure that comes at the top of the choir, the farthest part from the main entrance of the church. The middle part of the church is not particularly high; instead, we saw two domes rising on either side, each marking substantial side chapels of the church.

From the piazza named for the church, its high bell tower is in proportion to the wings extending out from the central facade.

I was even more confused when I saw the southeast facade of the church. A fountain and a high column stand in Piazza di Santa María Maggiore (the Italian name for the church). A two-level colonnade comprises the loggia or “porch” on the main entrance of the church, with a high campanile (bell tower) appearing to the right. We are far, far away from a “look” like Notre Dame in Paris! I felt so confused about the church exterior that I wondered if I was going to be disappointed.

The nave of Saint Mary Major features a 16th century gilt ceiling.

To enter the church instantly dispelled that worry. The Saint Mary Major interior just blew me away. The wood ceiling gleams with gold, and these pair well with the mosaic art appearing in the apse. The current church structure was consecrated in 434 CE; St. Mary Major had been standing for seven hundred years when Notre Dame in Paris was begun! Naturally, it has been substantially upgraded over time; the golden ceiling was a relatively late addition, reflecting the increased availability of this metal after colonization efforts in the New World.

The Coronation of the Virgin is the mosaic inside the apse. It is not one of the older mosaics since it dates from 1295 CE. It’s still more than seven hundred years old!

The mosaics, by the way, are probably the most unique work of art housed by the church. Many date from the fifth century CE, with twenty-seven of the original forty-two still in place. Some of the heavy hitters of the Renaissance are represented there, as well. I hoped to see Michelangelo’s Sforza Chapel, but it was unavailable for photos. Natasha and I both remarked at the rather modern stained-glass window in the main entrance.

This icon, Salus Populi Romani, is one of two artifacts before which Pope Francis prayed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We paused in the Borghese Chapel to look at the fine decoration of the space and to look upwards at one of the two domes we had seen from the outside. The icon painting at the heart of the chapel seems a bit confusing to me. I have seen enough Eastern Orthodox icons to recognize one when I see it, but what is it doing in the heart of a key Roman Catholic church? I was really interested to learn of its incredible longevity. It was part of an anti-plague procession by Pope Gregory I (590-604 CE) and was restored by the Vatican Museums in 2017. If this is indeed the same painting from the sixth-century procession, it would pre-date the split between eastern and western churches by 464 years!

The ordinary is extraordinary at Saint Mary Major.

I am including an image of a gilt angel holding a stand for candles in the Capella Sistina Presepe opposite the Borghese Chapel so that it won’t feel left out. When even the candle holders are this sumptuous, every step is an aesthetic treat.

Unlike the photographer, the pope is oriented in the correct direction.

When we left the Borghese Chapel, we noticed a little stairway leading down below the high altar (marked by four high and wide columns). I loved the prayerful statue of Pius IX, but I was unsure what the little reliquary he faced represented. When I looked it up later, I realized that this was the relic par excellence for this church; it purports to be boards from the manger in which Jesus was born.

Papal Basilica of Saint John Lateran

August 28, 2021

Saint John Lateran’s main facade was in shade, but the skies were about to take a dramatic turn!

If you have reached Saint Mary Major, it’s a pretty easy walk to reach another church of special significance. The Via Merulana will lead you directly to it! Natasha and I strolled down the road hand-in-hand. Merulana felt very much like a Parisian street, with businesses on the ground level and housing above. Paris would regulate that the first levels are all uniform heights off the ground as well as a high degree of uniformity in the colors and materials of the facades. In Rome, each buildng was its own beast, appearing in a riot of colors. We had to cross the Viale Manzoni, a substantial highway, but soon enough we had reached our goal.

When you hit the south end of Via Merulana, look up! This is the Lateran Obelisk, the largest standing ancient Egyptian obelisk in the world. It was constructed in 1400 BCE for the Temple of Amun in Karnak. It was shipped to Rome by Constantius II, arriving in 357 CE. It “only” arrived at its current location in 1588 CE.

Saint John Lateran is the only “Archbasilica” in the world. The church is considered supreme in this way because it is the church presided over by the Bishop of Rome, a.k.a the Pope. The “Lateran” part, by the way, refers to buildings on the lands of the Lateranus family of the Roman Empire. When they lost their lands to Emperor Constantine, he re-gifted them to the Catholic Church in 311 CE. The first Christian Church on this site was in place by 324 CE. This makes it the oldest basilica in the world! That said, the church has burned a few times, so the current structure may not share any “bones” with the old.

If this is what you see, know that you have arrived at the back door. Head east!

At first we tried to enter by the facade presented ot the end of Via Merulana, but that loggia is not open to visitors. We followed the road around to the east. During that walk we passed the Scala Santa, claimed to be the stairs that Jesus had to climb to reach the Sanhedrin, relocated to Rome by the mother of Constantine. The devout are allowed to climb the stairs only on their knees. We continued onward to the eastern side of Saint John Lateran to find its main facade to the world, with majestic columns. We passed through its massive bronze doors, perhaps even the ones originally crafted for the Roman Senate.

“You with the backpack! Down in front!”

The interior of Saint John Lateran was another story. A church approaching 1700 years of age should look pretty ancient, right? The interior, however, was heavily remodeled in the seventeenth century by Borromini, creating a series of arches lining both sides of the nave, each with a saintly figure at roughly double life size. The riot of color that we saw at Saint Mary Major was very different than the serene monochrome of Saint John Lateran. The ceiling, on the other hand, was richly worked with the colorful insignia of the pope.

The ceiling declares this church special to the bishop of Rome!

As usual, Natasha had spotted several things I missed. I lost sight of her for a moment and then found her inside a side chapel with an aged tile floor. She pointed out signs of use in the floor; these mosaics tell a story of many generations of faith. I was happy to see several elements representing the early days of the structure throughout, and a trip to the restroom revealed an opportunity to look upward into the ancient timbers and stone of the structure without the layers of art masking them.

The papal throne is at the deepest point of the apse.

The part of the church that most appealed to me artistically, however, were the mosaics and frescoes surrounding the altar of the church. The apse is particularly beautiful.

“Mary, mother of the church” is a 14th century carving from the scuola umbro marchigiana.

I was curious about a small wooden madonna. After a bit of a web search, I learned that this was a gift to the Lateran by Pope Francis. Though I wasn’t a fan of the nave in this church, the church had quite a few elements of beauty throughout. I think Natasha and I would have enjoyed a walk in the thirteenth-century cloister, too, but we were both out of energy from our busy first day.

This Monument for Saint Francis of Assissi faces John Lateran across a wide Piazza. I wonder what their conversation is like!

We returned to the outdoors and admired the view of the old city wall. I really liked a bronze statue group in a little park there, and the exposed artwork of a chapel on the courtyard before the Lateran also caught my eye. We struggled to discern which side of which street we needed to be on in order to catch a bus back to our neighborhood, crossing first this way and then that before realizing we needed to wait on an island separating lanes heading north to catch bus 81. The return trip gave us an enviable view of the Colosseum!

Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

August 30, 2021

In case you were wondering, images of Saint Paul generally include a book (his epistles) and a sword (his means of execution).

I had never heard of “Paul Outside the Walls” until I read a book on medieval art. It extolled the church built atop the presumed tomb of Saint Paul, and I was determined that I should see it myself. Because Natasha was ready to get back in the shade after a sunny morning, I made my way down to the church on my own, taking the line B train south from the Colosseum. Someone was playing a hammer dulcimer for donations. When I emerged aboveground, I was in an entirely different part of the city.

While Mary Major and John Lateran are close together and everyone can find St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s is a quite a bit south from the usual tourist ramble.

The church was close to the train station, and I navigated a sidewalk sale of fabric to reach the abbey behind it. I couldn’t enter the abbey since it was closed on Mondays. The sun was beating down, and nobody was around, making me worry the entire complex was simply closed for business. I came to the bell tower and the eastern facade of the church, and again it appeared to offer no access. Had I come down here for nothing?

Yes, that is a mosaic on the exterior of the building. These date from 1854 and 1874, though they were based on earlier designs.

When I reached the “quadriportico” at the northwest corner of the complex, everything changed. A few military vehicles were present, and the soldiers reported that yes, the church was open as usual. I found the entrance between the quadriportico and a coffeeshop with building fragments in its garden. Unlike some of the other sites, I was waved through without someone even screening my backpack. There were very, very few visitors at the church for the entire time I was there.

I really appreciate that Dartmouth College placed this image online to support Nicola Camerlenghi’s book on Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls. Even in their fourth-century forms, these three basilicas were enormous in scale.

Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls is a really ancient church. Paul’s followers erected a memorial at his grave, and it gained a church under Pope Sylvester in 324 CE. A much grander basilica had to wait until 386-402 CE. The church complex was fortified to survive raids by the Saracens in the 9th century, but an earthquake in 1348 CE damaged it extensively. The repaired church was mostly unchanged for a few centuries but then was immolated when a workman repairing its lead roof in 1823 started a fire. The Church decided to rebuild the church essentially as it had been, but the project took quite a while, with many tasks remaining at the reconsecration of 1854.

The nave of Saint Paul’s is sedate, with frescoes appearing between each pair of windows in the upper story. Why does the central mosaic of Christ and the 24 Elders seem so dour, though? I prefered his friendlier image on the opposite face of the arch.

At first I thought the nave was roped off for a service, but then I realized the entrance was from the side instead. I entered, admired the wooden model of the church dating from the 19th century rebuild, and just gazed around the beautiful space for a few moments. It was very quiet inside with three or four people seated and roughly the same number of apparent tourists. I lingered for longer than strictly necessary, just soaking up the atmosphere.

The mosaic in the apse was the highlight of the entire complex for me. The original was created in the 13th century, though the 19th century restoration was largely created from new materials. “Christ enthroned in Glory

Suddenly I realized that the exit door was actually a transition into the space behind the altar (where I had been able to see such beautiful spaces in the earlier two churches. I realized that the space beyond the arch was really large in St. Paul’s, with chapels and magnificent mosaic work all around. For me, the apse mosaic was simply enchanting.

The high altar of the church, however, was always lingering in my mind. You see, it’s built right above Paul’s sarcophagus. This historical figure who played such a key role in creating a Christianity that opened itself to gentile and Jew alike was buried right there. It was all a bit overwhelming to me.

Isn’t this a lovely way to indicate the positions of columns in relation to their bases?

The church is reputed to have a magnificent cloister, dating to the 13th century, but it was closed. An architecture walk downstairs was open, for the low price of just 1 euro. The site did a good job to depict the settlement that attended Paul’s burial site during medieval and early modern times. Their use of hanging strings to represent column positions along the entrance walk for the medieval basilica was rather evocative and beautiful.

Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican

September 2, 2021

The best view of St. Peter’s domes is from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo.

In retrospect, it’s clear that scheduling our visit to Saint Peter’s after our visit to the Vatican Museums meant we would be on the low-energy orbit of the massive church. Natasha and I had a lovely lunch at “A gogo gluten-free” near the Ottaviano subway stop and then strolled down the road of the same name to the square before the church. In walking through the curved colonade to enter the square, it felt like an emergence from the city into a monumental space (besides crossing a national boundary, since the Vatican is not Italy).

This statue of Saint Peter (see the keys?) is thought to have been created by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1290 CE. So many pilgrims kissed its foot that the metal thinned.

We baked in the sun for a few moments and took silly photos of ourselves near the Vatican Obelisk (it has a less-distinguished history than the Lateran Obelisk). Just how did we want to experience St. Peter’s? Did we want to join the line for the cupola? Well, the line would take time, and neither of us does well with heights and vertigo just now. Instead we looked for the shorter line to enter the basilica at ground floor. The most common reason people were turned away was not for security but rather for wearing clothing that was judged too revealing for a sacred place (such as bare shoulders). Natasha and I were through the lines very quickly; most of our time was just walking through the baffles to reach the point of entry.

Would you expect an artist of just 22 years would have the empathy to create such an emotional work?

I was glad we could pause just after entering the church, because I wanted to gaze at Michelangelo’s Pieta. I couldn’t see a good option for an up-close photo due to glass reflections and tourist elbows, but I stood back a bit a bit and switched to my telephoto for this image. It is a striking work of art.

Those ceilings feel cavernous, at least at first!

The nave of St. Peter’s seems far more gargantuan than the other major basilicas. It’s not just that it’s the longest and widest nave of the four, but its arched ceiling rises higher above above its floor than the flat ceilings of the other structures. Given that its capacity is listed at 60,000 people, the church felt as though it was quite empty even with maybe a thousand tourists running around. I appreciated that railing prevented the clueless (me) from crossing the aisle into an area good Catholics would avoid.

That tall structure, a baldachin, stands atop the Clementine Chapel that houses the tomb of Saint Peter.

Given how I plotzed over the tomb of Saint Paul above, you might think I would be equally enamored of the tomb of Saint Peter. Oddly, I find that I get less excited about him because his church is so overwhelmingly popular among tourists to Rome and the Vatican. For the high altar to be scaled appropriately to the volume of this massive church, though, the 17th century baldachin in bronze reaches almost 29 meters in height (almost 95 feet). Many aspects of this church changed in the 16th century, since “Old Saint Peter’s” (pictured above in the schematic accompanying the Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls section) was replaced by the present structure during 1506 through 1626 CE. Considerable artistry has gone into making this space effective for a huge number of people to celebrate mass together.

The “Cathedra Petri” at the apse shows the chair of Saint Peter being held aloft by the four Doctors of the Church.

Natasha and I both enjoyed a little pause at the apse, the farthest point from the entrance. Bernini’s 17th century “Cathedra Petri” draws your eye from quite a large part of the nave, with the light shining through the dove’s window representing the Holy Spirit. The sculpture also serves as a reliquary, though, since the chair below that window and supported by the Four Doctors is traditionally held to be the Chair of Saint Peter (though even its oldest parts apparently are not older than the sixth century). We loved the artistry of it all.

From there, Natasha and I took the stairs down to the Vatican Grottoes. While photographs are not allowed, the Vatican has made photographs available from the linked website. The grottoes are not cave-like at all, and it’s a really pleasant visual break if you are feeling dazed from immeasurable spaces and gilt all around you! We walked out into the sunlight, blinked our eyes, and set course for our home-away-from-home. The most magnificent churches on earth had made their mark on us both.

Rouen Cathedral: layer upon layer

Of all the words I have learned in the past few years, “palimpsest” is definitely the worst. Try saying it out loud. In my mouth, it has the same awfulness as “moist.” Just the same, the meaning of the word is useful: we frequently see the materials of a past work being reused to serve a new purpose. Rouen Cathedral is one of the best examples of architecture that preserves in its structure many different layers of design across the centuries.

This map of the cathedral will be a useful guide for what follows. It appears in an open book by Jacques Le Maho and Anne-Marie Carment-Lanfry


Because the Rouen Cathedral has occupied its present site for approximately forever, I felt this timeline, adapted from La Cathédrale de Rouen; sauvetage – restauration, 1939-1955 with some additional details from Kevin D. Murphy, would help put it in context.

  • 1037 CE: Reconstruction of the church begun by the archbishops Robert and Maurille. Dedication in 1063 CE. From this church are preserved the crypt and sculpted capitals.
  • 1145: Continued work at the cathedral, attested by a letter from Archbishop Hughes.
  • ~1180: Construction of the lower parts of the Saint-Romain tower and the Saint-Jean and Saint-Etienne portals of the current facade.
  • ~1185: Demolition and rebuilding of Romanesque nave to follow a Gothic design.
  • 1200: Fire in Rouen and the Romanesque cathedral.
  • 1200-1220 approximately: Construction of the Gothic nave
  • ~1220-1230: Construction of the Gothic transept and choir, on older foundations.
  • 1275-1300 approximately: Construction (by master builder Jean Davi?) of the portals of the Calende and the Library.
  • 1302-1320 approximately: Extension of the chapel of the Virgin, under archbishop Guillaume de Flavacourt.
  • 1370 and after: Work on the “flamboyant” western facade under the direction of Jean Perier and Jean de Bayeux, who died in 1398.
  • 1407-1421: Completion of western facade decoration and the Saint-Jean portal.
  • ~1430-1460: Repair of the high windows of the church.
  • 1469-1477: Complementation of the crown of Saint-Romain tower by Guillaume Pontis; construction of the Library and its staircase.
  • 1485-1508: Construction of the Tour de Beurre.
  • 1508-1514: Reconstruction of the large western portal.
  • 1514: Fire of the spire of the lantern tower and fall of part of the choir vaults.
  • 1523-1544: Construction of the new wooden spire.
  • 1562: Sack of the cathedral by the Protestants during the Wars of Religion.
  • 1683: A hurricane (!) devastates the facade of the cathedral.
  • 1730-1780: Transformation of the choir: altar, new rood screen.
  • 1792-1795: French Revolution destroys metal objects (lead, brass, part of the old Treasury).
  • 1822: Fire in the spire of the lantern tower and part of the attic.
  • 1829-1876: Construction of the cast iron spire, designed by Alavoine.
  • 1884: Demolition of the 13th century rood screen.
  • 1894-1910: Main restoration work by Sauvageot, then by Chaine.
  • 1928-1935: Excavations discover the Romanesque crypt.
  • 1940: Partial fire in the attic.
  • 1944: Bombing, fire and partial destruction of the cathedral.
  • 1945-1956: Consolidations, excavations and general restoration of the cathedral by A. Chauvel.
This image of the western facade stitches together several photographs through my prime lens.

It should be apparent from the above that the cathedral represents many plans, builds, destructions, and restoration all layered atop each other. Given that the contemporary cathedral stems from foundations laid in the eleventh century, it’s worth remembering that Duke William of Normany conquered England in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 CE. As a result, Normandy was entering a period where it mediated the relationship between France and England. The Catholic parish was not the only religious organization in Rouen, either; the Abbey of Saint Ouen was just a short walk away, and the archbishop and the abbot sometimes entered violent conflict with each other!

A view of the nave from the western entrance.

The other addition to the abbey text is the account of the riot of 24 august 1073, which has become, in the well-known words of Michel de Boüard, ‘un incident héroï-comique souvent narré’. The riot began after archbishop John, who was supposed to conduct the feast day mass of St-Ouen, arrived at the abbey late and found that proceedings had started without him. Clearly feeling that his jurisdiction had been undermined, the archbishop flew into a rage. Excommunicating the monks on the spot, he drove the officiating prelate, the abbot of St-Martin de Sées, from the altar, placing him under an interdict. He then began to celebrate mass himself, but was interrupted when someone offended by his behaviour began to ring the monastery bell. The individual responsible for the interruption then ran to the square, and shouted that John was trying to take the relics of St-Ouen back to the cathedral, which was untrue. Upon hearing the rumour, however, the people of Rouen took up arms and entered the abbey, where they attacked the archbishop. The cathedral clerks and St-Ouen monks then began to brawl, and the whole situation only dissipated with the arrival of the local vicomte. A council was convened in Rouen by the duke to examine the dispute, and William ordered that the archbishop pay a fine of 300 livres for his actions against a ducal abbey, and reconcile himself with St-Ouen. The archbishop’s rage was so great, however, that he refused, and the task was eventually entrusted to Michael, bishop of Avranches (1068–94).

Richard Allen. Chapter 4 in Cathedrals, Communities, and Conflict in the Anglo-Norman World.
The Virgin of the Vow by Felix Lecomte

In-Spiring and Towering

The two towers flanking the western facade of the cathedral each have their own stories to tell. The north tower, Saint-Romain, is considerably older than the other. Tour Saint-Romain (named after an early bishop of Rouen) was constructed at the start of the 13th century, though its top floor was only completed in the 1478. This tower, paid for with chapter funds, was begun as the church made an abrupt shift toward gothic stye from Romanesque; the dedication of the Basilica Saint-Denis in 1144 CE turned many heads to the new Gothic style. If you approach the cathedral from the Horloge, this tower will be the first to come into sight.

The Tower of Saint-Romain

Guillaume Pontifs, who had just completed the Tour Saint-Romain, then continued his efforts by constructing the Tour de Beurre (“Butter Tower”) in a completely different style. If your only exposure to Gothic churches is to have seen images of Notre Dame in Paris, you might not realize that it’s a bit unusual that the two towers come as a matched pair. Chartres, Saint-Denis, and many other Gothic cathedrals have rather different styles in their two towers (and of course some may omit one or both towers flanking the facade). The Tour de Beurre won its fun-to-say name through an unusual funding measure. The church agreed to accept money from parishoners who wanted to continue eating dairy products during Lent. With a very motivated master builder, the construction of the Butter Tower was completed in only twenty-three years.

The prominence of the spire is apparent in this photo from across the Seine.

To say that the restoration of the cathedral spire after an 1822 fire was controversial is a significant understatement. Jean-Antoine Alavoine resolved upon constructing a new spire from cast iron atop the lantern tower, a technology unavailable to the medieval architects. When Alavoine died in 1834, the project was woefully incomplete, and for a time criticism by influential restoration architect Viollet-le-Duc nearly killed the forward progress. Marshal MacMahon curried favor with the Rouennais by throwing support behind its completion, and the spire was in place by 1875. Its spire made Rouen Cathedral the tallest building in the world, replacing St. Nicholas Church in Hamburg. The record stood until Cologne Cathedral was completed in 1880. In 1884, the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. swiped the crown. Only five years later, the Eiffel Tower nearly doubled the height of the Washington Monument!


The Library Stairs (1479 CE / 1788 CE)

The same Guillaume Pontifs who had built the Tour de Beurre was also asked to connect the northern transept of the cathedral to the library. Both the Abbey of Saint-Ouen and the Cathedral of Rouen acquired manuscripts for their libraries throughout medieval times, and yet multiple fires in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries eviscerated these collections. The chapter library constructed after 1398 CE by Jenson Salvart at the cathedral is substantial at 35 meters by 8 meters (sadly, though, we did not get to visit). The 1479 CE stairway to the library by Guillaume Pontifs is so gorgeous as to make one pause. He was responsible for the first two flights; the upper levels were added in 1788. This library gained a new function as the printing press made significant inroads in the early fifteenth century.

The stairs above lead into the cloister structure appearing at the left in this image.

William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, Philippe-Auguste, Jeanne d’Arc, and Claude Monet.

I wanted to highlight five famous people who had a brush with Rouen Cathedral. William the Conqueror, of course, was the Duke of Normandy who crossed the English Channel to fight in the Battle of Hastings, founding the short-lived House of Normandy line of kings. Just three years before he launched his invasion of England, though, Duke William attended the consecration of the Romanesque cathedral at Rouen in 1063 CE. Today’s cathedral may look very different than the one back then, but the footings are still there!

This is the lead box in which we found Richard the Lionheart’s… heart. From Charlier et al (2013)

When Richard “the Lionheart” I died in 1199 CE, the Crusader King had gone to war against a town called Châlus in central France. His body was separated into pieces for interment, and a lead box containing his heart was placed in the crypt at Rouen Cathedral. The box was rediscovered during excavations at the cathedral in 1838 CE. In 2013, scientists investigated the dust into which the heart had decomposed.

Philippe-Auguste was the king of France in 1204 CE who reabsorbed Normandy into the main body of France. He chose the in-construction cathedral for his solemn procession. By this time the Rouen Cathedral had made its abrupt turn toward Gothic design, so the nave or choir might already have shown something like their modern elevation. Philippe-Auguste was an inveterate builder (such as the walls of Paris), so he would probably not have been dismayed by scaffolding and construction dust!

The archbishop’s garden, as viewed from the west. The spire is Saint-Maclou. Image published in 2001 by Yves Lescroart.

The Joan of Arc museum is directly behind the cathedral, in large part because she was subjected to questioning in the archbishop’s palace. She was only nineteen years old in 1431 CE when she was burned to death at the old market square in Rouen. The cathedral honors Jeanne the Maid by hosting a chapel in her memory.

Composite image produced from Wikipedia collection

Claude Monet is the Johnny-come-lately of this group. In 1892 CE, the innovative artist set up his canvas to paint the facade of the cathedral for the first image of his Rouen Cathedral series. In 1895 he would choose his favorite twenty paintings from this series for his exhibition. For anyone with a love for Impressionism, seeing the facade of this cathedral in person will ring bells of memory!

The Devastation of War

April 19, 1944 was an evil day for Rouen. A bomb dropped by the Allies blasted a hole in the flank of the nave. Image from Cathedral Archive, published in Monuments Historiques de la France (1956).
Seen from the inside, the damage to the south aisle is even more apparent. Restoration was only able to use isolated sculpted fragments and moldings. Image from Cathedral Archive, published in Monuments Historiques de la France (1956).

To visit Rouen Cathedral is to join a long tale, winding through history. I am grateful that the extraordinary damages of World War II were restored! To close, I would like to translate a few sentences from Le Maho and Carment-Lanfry:

Made up of such diverse contributions, Rouen appears as the most alive, the most human of all cathedrals; like a human being, in fact, she was born from an upwelling of love. Like a human being, she has been shaped by life, transformed over the ages while remaining deeply the same. Though she has known great joys and glorious hours, she has not been spared trials. She came out purified, embellished, nobler to have suffered and to know how to stand.

La Notre-Dame Cathédrale de Rouen, pp. 289-290, by Jacques Le Maho and Anne-Marie Carment-Lanfry

Chartres Cathedral: a paradise of stained glass

August 24, 2021

I have tried to avoid becoming one of “those tourists,” people who march directly from the train to a tourist site, snap lots of photos, and then step directly into traffic without looking. When my opportunity to visit Chartres arrived, I scheduled myself half a day in the town. Unfortunately, my cell phone decided that the morning of my trip was the right time to refuse connection to the mobile network. The “Oui” app from SNCF wouldn’t show my ticket QR code! As a consequence, I slipped back an hour in my departure for Chartres. The train, departing from Montparnasse, took a little more than an hour to cross the distance, but it feels like a bigger difference in environment, since one can live in Paris for months without seeing anything like agricultural land!

The Broken Sword monument of Jean Moulin, a hero of the French Resistance in WWII

I decided to follow Avenue Jehan de Beauce away from the train station rather than walking directly to the cathedral. I was pleased to see that it soon gained a pedestrian-friendly Esplanade de la Résistance on its east side. Its “chemin de memoire” explained several memorials along the path, with maps to attractions like the Fine Arts Museum. The Broken Sword monument was notable for celebrating the life of Jean Moulin (French Resistance) and remembering those lost in the concentration camps of World War II. It appears opposite the Médiathèque L’Apostrophe, housed in a beautiful Art Nouveau building from 1926 by Raoul Brandon.

Architecture like this can definitely sway me from a planned cathedral visit! Médiathèque L’Apostrophe of Chartres

A massive plaza right next to it had picked out “#Chartres” in 3D letters in front of an admirable vista of the city’s cathedral. I stopped instead to photograph Sainte-Foy, an old church of solid composition, even if it were much less impressive in size. During World War II, the crypt of this church was used to protect some of the materials from Chartres Cathedral from bomb strikes.

I wandered for a little while, both because the streets were far from a north-south / east-west grid and because I had some difficulty getting my internal north pointed in the right direction. The plazas and historic buildings seemed to stretch in every direction, and it appeared that business was booming despite the never-ending pandemic. Before too much time had passed, I had circled the cathedral to approach from the south. Given how much larger it is than most other buildings in Chartres, one can generally find it by entering a plaza and looking up.

Chartres has plenty of cafes in charming plazas for high-quality people-watching!

Encountering Chartres Cathedral

I first heard of Chartres when I was a little boy (and yes, I was small for quite a lot longer than my age-mates). My primary or middle-school teacher was trying to explain medieval times to the class. She showed us a videotape dramatizing the construction of a cathedral as a multi-generational task; almost no people alive to see the cornerstone placed would survive to see the nave completed, let alone the choir, the facade, or the never-ending towers. Chartres began construction in 1145 CE. It wasn’t the earliest of the Gothic churches; that honour usually goes to Basilica of Saint Denis, which completed its Gothic nave and choir during 1135-1144 CE, or the Cathedral of Sens, which broke ground in 1135 CE and had a completed nave in 1164 CE.

Chartres was distinctive in part because of a disaster; a fire in 1194 forced reconstruction of its nave and choir. The key elements of Gothic architecture (pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses) had been established long since through experimentation at places like Saint-Pierre de Montmartre and Saint-Martin-des-Champs. Chartres would integrate these elements for substantial elevation of the structure, integrating a trio of rose windows with enormous clerestory stained-glass and sculptures throughout the church. Chartres Cathedral inaugurated the “High Gothic,” and it has been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The rose window at the north end of the transept dates from 1235 CE. The five lower images are Melchizedek, David, St. Anne, Solomon, and Aaron. The rose above celebrates the Virgin Mary.

I was quite surprised by the stark contrast between the inside and outside. At present, the exterior wears its 800 years with a combination of crumble and corrode. The inside, however, is light and airy throughout the nave (but again one sees a contrast between transept and nave since the side areas have not completed restoration).

The nave and choir interior view, Chartres Cathedral

The ongoing restoration has performed its everyday miracle on the wall of sculpture separating the choir from the ambulatory, with just the last scenes from the 17th century life of Jesus still dark while the rest gleams in white.

Did you ever wonder why heritage people argue for restoration work? Look no further. This massive statue wall separates the choir from the walk surrounding it. The part at the right awaits restoration.

My interest in Chartres stems from my interest in stained glass; unlike almost every other Catholic Cathedral in France, the original panes are still in place for the great majority of its fantastic collection, and almost all were created in the 12th and 13th centuries CE. One frequently hears that stained glass windows played a role in communicating stories from the Bible to a largely illiterate population. While that is true of Chartres, these beautiful “vitraux” also extend to the lives of saints and even to historical figures. I would not have expected to see Thomas à Becket and Charlemagne featured in their own windows, but there they were! I was also interested to see that the creatures of the zodiac made an appearance, plus four animal heads were grafted to the pulpit.

Cobblers practice their trade at the bottom left of the Life of St. Stephen (1220-25 CE)

I loved the little touches that showed that different sectors of the Chartres community had contributed to its construction. I snapped an image of cobblers making shoes in the corner of St. Stephen’s window.

Notre-Dame de la Belle-Verrière, the central panes of the Virgin Mary, is one of the oldest and most famous windows in the church (1180 CE). The colors of her cloak came to be known as “Chartres blue.”

The veneration of Mary is obviously going to feature in a church called Notre Dame, and I loved the famous window in “Chartres Blue” that celebrated her. The 15th century carving of her (see below) was much smaller than I had expected, but its magnificent frame was something special. I did not visit the extensive crypt; I am unsure whether the public is allowed to see the reliquary housing the veil of the virgin that made the site such a draw for pilgrims at the millenium before last. I found a couple treasures at the gift shop, one for me (a mousepad with the pattern of the famous labyrinth from the floor of the cathedral) and another present for my mother-in-law.

Our Lady of the Pillar was carved in pear wood during the 16th century. The neo-Gothic surround was created in 1830.
BONUS WINDOW! The lancets below the southeast rose show four prophets (Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and Jeremiah) holding the four evangelists on their shoulders in a very literal “prophecy fulfilled” visualization.

Upon exiting the cathedral, I spent some moments at the south porch; I had already seen its interior, with an enchanting set of windows showing prophets perched on prophets’ shoulders. The exterior, however, features a beautifully sculpted depiction of the last judgment. I have decided I rather like this subject for art ever since I first used Hans Memling‘s depiction in a slide for my biomarkers class, using it to explain dichotomous classifiers. In any case, the side of the Chartres sculpture showing those judged unworthy of heaven is delightful, with very naughty-seeming demons dragging their charges to hell. One demon has clasped the ankle of a woman, and her hair trails behind them on their journey. I am convinced that the creativity and whimsy of artists is what sets apart one work of art among others of the same topic.

These naughty demons are just what this Last Judgment needed! (Southeast portico)

Why did Chartres manage to retain these priceless windows and sculptures when so many other churches were destroyed in the Revolution (Lady Chapel of St. Germain-des-Pres) or World War I (Rheims Cathedral) or World War II (Rouen Cathedral)? The Historic Monuments Commission / Fine Arts Commission agreed to remove the windows from Chartres Cathedral for remote storage during World War I and World War II (this story is told in more detail in Saving the Light, by Victor A. Pollak). The cathedral itself was greatly endangered in the course of World War II. The American Army resolved to destroy it, believing the cathedral was being used as an observation post by German forces (the town of Chartres had become a logistics center for the Germans occupying France). Colonel Welborn Griffin objected to this order, volunteering to determine whether or not the cathedral was playing a military role. He shines as the hero of Pollak’s book.

Centre International de Vitrail

The Centre de Vitrail in Chartres is exactly the right place to learn what each of those windows mean.

I decided to visit the Centre de Vitrail, just north of the cathedral, to learn more about the creation and restoration of these images. My attention was arrested at the entrance to the centre by an apparently well cared-for fluffy grey and white cat. I rested my hand nearby, and she stretched her paw out to touch my finger! I stroked her head for a few minutes, and all was right with the world.

Here it is! It’s an index to each pane of each window in the Cathedral!

Because the museum opened only at 14:00, I popped over to a restaurant for some lunc. While the Centre offers its flossy brochure only in French, the descriptions on the walls are offered in both English and French (just a few are French-only). I particularly appreciated their glossaries of uncommon terms, as they apply to stained glass:

  • Stop-gap
  • Grisaille
  • Foliation
  • Apse
  • Cartoon
  • Jewelling
  • Silver stain
  • Carnation
  • Coloured through the Mass
The downstairs of the Centre de Vitrail offers noteworthy architecture of its own.

After a while I became aware that the building I was visiting had many of its historical “bones” on display. I could see up into the rafters, and its modern art display in the cellar was staged in a decadent Gothic backdrop, with ribbed vaults throughout. The Centre provides maps for a great many of the Cathedral’s compound windows, so it is a great way to understand the details of a given story told in glass.

This majestic modern work by Pierre-Alain Parot shows that we have made great strides in glass since the 12th century!

Avignon, refuge of Popes and anti-Popes

When our TGV to the south approached Avignon on June 12, my first sight of the Palace of the Popes caught my breath. I had last seen the structure in 1994 from a train in the middle of the night, but with my brother Tom in town, I would finally get my chance to see the Palace up close. He and I had already invested a morning wandering around the Roman theatre at Orange, so we paused for an ice cream lunch in the Place du Palais.

The Notre-Dame des Doms and Palais des Papes at Avignon

What an impression that square creates in a visitor’s mind! The builders of the fortress knew how to project power. If I could start the story at the end, though, I think it’s really interesting that the Place du Palais itself was created in 1398 by Rodrigo de Luna. He was no architect; he was the military commander under (and nephew of) anti-Pope Benedict XIII, and he destroyed the buildings before the Palace to make its entrance easier to defend from a siege of French mercenaries. The plaza is ground zero for tourists in Avignon, so I was grateful for some elbow room!

Dedication frontispiece with King Philippe IV the Fair and family from translation of “Kalila and Dimna” (1313 CE), Image from Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 8504

But I am getting ahead of myself. Why did the pope decide to move his court to Avignon from the Vatican? Several reasons seem to have been in play, many of which relate to French King Philippe IV “le Bel”. King Philippe levied a tax against French clergymen, and Pope Boniface VIII wrote a bull proclaiming that all kings were below the Pope’s authority and excommunicated King Philippe. French thugs conspired with northern Italians to capture Boniface VIII at Anagni in 1303, to treat him quite roughly, and to pillage his treasury; the Pope died a month later, making it clear that Italy was not a safe refuge. King Philippe needed money for his wars and decided to smear the Templars so he could appropriate their wealth; his desire for an accommodating Pope caused French cardinals to forestall any but a French candidate for the papacy.

Avignon Popes and Palaces

I rather like the caricature shorthand for the seven Avignon Popes that Edwin Mullins included in his book: “Puppet, Miser, Monk, Emperor, Bookkeeper, Saint, and Humanist.” I know that serious scholars of the medieval would scoff at its rigor, but the book is at least memorable!

Seven Popes spent much of their papacies in or near Avignon. ‘A’ represents a time that the pope moved to Avignon, and ‘R’ represents a time that the pope moved to Rome. The Western Schism, the period of the anti-Popes, falls after the range shown here.

Puppet” Clement V: The Archbishop of Bordeaux was chosen to become Pope Clement V even though he wasn’t a cardinal. As was characteristic of the Avignon Popes, he was trained in canon and civil law, heralding a period when the papacy would have more powerful administration than before. Immediately upon his election, however, Clement V must have realized that his independence as pope was pretty limited, since King Philippe compelled him to be coronated in 1305 on French soil at Lyon. After a stint at Poitiers, the papal court came to Avignon to take advantage of its being in papal lands of Provence, an area that was not integrated into France until the French Revolution. At the start of the 14th century, Avignon was essentially a village, certainly without grand housing for wealthy cardinals, but the court of Clement V “made do” without a palace; he frequently visited the countryside rather than creating a stately residence in Avignon itself.

So did Clement V manage to achieve any independence? He attempted to deflect King Philippe’s efforts to take Templar property and execute the knights (for example by making it a church trial rather than a royal one), but ultimately he could not stop the king from burning the Templar leaders at the stake. True, the Avignon Papacy was not in France proper, but the fact that the papal court was just across the river from France gave King Philippe greater international prestige. A great storm was building on the horizon, though. It was clear even before the reign of Edward III that England and France were on a collision course, so being closer to France gave the Pope more opportunity to intervene in the Hundred Years’ War.

This hypothesis attempts to reconstruct the center of papal authority under John XXII (originally created by Bernhard Schimmelpfennig in 1994 and reprinted by Vingtain and Sauvageot).

“Miser” John XXII: The second Avignon Pope put the church on a sound financial footing during a time of significant growth for Avignon. Cardinals built two early structures in the city during his reign: the “Petit Palace” (1318-1320) which now houses an art museum and the “Livrée Ceccano” (begun before 1331) which now houses the municipal city library. I wish I had known enough before our visit to see the two!

One of the factors I found most intriguing about John XXII was that he became something of a bête noire to William of Ockham (who popularized parsimony in his philosophical writings). John XXII is also notable for having canonized St. Thomas Aquinas.

The ground floor of the Benedict XII palace, in Vingtain and Sauvageot
In this photograph, I am looking toward the lower left of the diagram above within the Palais Vieux.

“Monk” Benedict XII: As a Cistercian monk, Jacques Fournier served as an Inquisitor who burned the last of the Cathars in southwestern France. It is this austere pope who first constructed a monumental palace at Avignon, today labeled the “Palais Vieux.” Mullins describes this structure as a “bastion” or “fortress,” but its purpose was to house church business, bringing the archives from Italy, treasury, and administrators under one roof. The old fortress receives considerably less attention than the new on the Palace tours, but my brother Tom and I did shoot a little video in its courtyard to explain the Popes’ move to Avignon for his students.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Cathars of Southern France were horribly persecuted and murdered by orthodox Catholics. Image from Wikipedia.

As we move forward with the most imperial of popes, I think it is worth saying that the most influential of writers from this period were mad as hell at what they saw the Papal Court becoming in Avignon. I would refer you to Petrarch and Dante

“Emperor” Clement VI: Ruling during 1342-1352 CE, Clement VI gets the lion’s share of the glory for the Avignon Popes. The monies that John XXII had brought to the treasury were spent heavily by Clement for his “Palais Neuf,” which transformed the structure from an forbidding keep to a resplendent mansion and a grand church in its own right. He also added substantial gardens to the back of the complex.

The coat of arms of Pope Paul V decorate the former Papal Mint in the Place du Palais, Avignon.

Clement VI brought parades to the streets of Avignon and majestic receptions for visiting royalty. Italian banks opened major centers in the city, today remembered by a bas relief on the opposite side of the Place du Palais. Clement also made a key appointment in launching a military effort under Cardinal Gil Alvarez Carrillo de Albornoz to repacify the Papal States of Italy.

A miniature by Gilles li Muisis at Saint-Martin à Tournai dating to 1349 – 1352. © KIK-IRPA, Brussels

Clement VI’s term as Pope would seem a great success except for a little public health problem called the “peste noire;” the Black Death had come to France. A Genoese ship sailing from the Crimea brought rats to Messina in 1347 CE. Those rats were infested with fleas, and the fleas were infected with Yersinia pestis. Two to eight days after an infected fleabite, a victim’s lymph nodes would swell to the size of chicken eggs before he or she died. This, the first appearance of this plague in Europe, killed an astonishing number of people throughout the continent, striking down as much as half the population of cities. Naturally, the people of Avignon wondered if the sumptuous living on display at the palace was being answered by a sign of disapproval from God…

This fishing scene is one of the most intact images of the Chambre du Cerf.

Walking around the Palais Neuf of Clement VI, the luxury of his life is apparent even if many of the hand-painted room interiors have been lost through aging, chipped away by soldiers who used the structure for a barracks, or otherwise defaced. The path through the palace is quite a maze, really. Rather than having a single linear progression through all the rooms, a tourist makes lots of choices along the way. Do you want to see the gardens? The treasury? The kitchens? All of these are spurs to the main tour.

The Pope’s bedroom has lovely colorful tiles, frescoed walls, and a painted ceiling. The man wanted a magical forest of birds, and he got it! Composite of photo from JM Rosier and “Ph.Bar.”

For me, the highlight is the Chambre du Pape, or the Pope’s bedroom. Vexingly, photographs are disallowed inside painted rooms (both walls and ceilings) such as this one. Yes, even if your camera doesn’t have a flash. Yes, even if it’s just your cell phone. Happily, I was able to find some archival images over at the French Ministry of Culture. I loved the theme of an indoor forest for the Pope’s bedroom, and the little birds that one can find in each curl of branches are charming. I had less love for the Chambre du Cerf, the Pope’s private study next to his bedroom. The hunting and fishing scenes tell us of the love for these sports among the nobility of the fourteenth century, but they have been marred by the ravages of time.

The martyrdom of John the Baptist from Chapelle Saint-Jean should be familiar material to many.

The palace has two small frescoed chapels and a gargantuan nave for large-scale masses. The smaller chapels are right on top of each other in the aptly named “Tour des Chapelles.” Chapelle Saint-Jean celebrates two eponymous saints (John the Baptist is a different person than John the Evangelist). The Chapelle Saint-Martial celebrates one of the first bishops in France, active around the year 250 CE. Matteo Giovannetti crafted lovely frescoes of his life for this chapel in 1344-1345, and he completed the set for Saint-Jean during 1346-1348. I didn’t really feel that we got a good look at these works during our tour, since one cannot really linger inside the chapel (and one of them was closed off from visits).

In some cases, the removal of frescoes have exposed the red tracing used to compose them.

The Grande Chapelle is on a completely different scale from the smaller chapels. Very few of its original frescoes remain in place, but its vaults are still beautiful. In the 19th century, the nave served as a storage depot for government archives. The stairway leading down from the chapel has a magnificent look onto the courtyard below, effectively the space enclosed between the old and new palaces. The area had temporary construction underway to erect banks of seats for a concert or recital. I wonder how echoey those walls will be!

What began as a space between old and new palaces is now a concert venue!

I really enjoyed our visit to the Palace, though I did feel that the building has a great emptiness to it. Relatively few spaces have exhibits in place, and there’s no period furniture to help us imagine how these rooms would function. The tablet audioguides that they issued us at the entrance, however, were pretty cool in that they could show us animations of some rooms superimposed over the walls and floors we were navigating. I liked their little historical vignettes, too.

“Bookkeeper” Innocent VI: As a former professor of law, Innocent VI was known for his prudence and sobriety. The ongoing party that Clement VI had started had come to an end, the papal coffers emptied of their gold. Despite the new austerity, Innocent kept the pressure on the Papal States of Italy by funding Cardinal Albornoz’s military campaign there. In some cases, it was possible to turn warlords’ loyalties by bribes more inexpensively than by military action.

A temporary lull in the Hundred Years’ War meant that many unemployed men were lingering with sharp weapons. A substantial army of these “routiers” came to Avignon under Arnaud de Cervole. Innocent paid the routier forces a substantial fee to abandon the castles they had occupied in papal lands. When the “Free Companies” came to Avignon under Albert Sterz, Innocent used a slightly different strategy, taking some of the forces in employ for winning back control of the Papal States in Italy. Naturally, establishing better walls around the city gained priority.

“Saint” Urban V: Under the penultimate Avignon Pope, the moribund effort to return to the Vatican seemed to have been underway once more. The former Benedictine abbott expanded the palace gardens further and continued the city wall project, but his heart was set on returning to Rome. Cardinal Albornoz’s efforts had finally stabilized Italy enough that the papal court could return.

Map of the ground-level for the Palace of the Popes at the end of Urban V pontificate. Adapted from S. Gagniere (1965) in Vingtain and Sauvageot.

On October 16, 1367 CE, the returned papal court was received rapturously by the city of Rome. A representative of the Eastern Orthodox faith was there to discuss a future where the two branches of Christianity could re-unify [If you are sensitive to naughty language, don’t click that link]. The problem, however, was that the Eastern church needed military forces to accomplish that. The two largest military powers in Western Europe, England and France, were not willing to send armies east while they were busy killing each other wholesale in France. On September 24, 1370, Urban re-entered Avignon with his court. The Hundred Years’ War was raging once again, and now the Papal Treasury was empty from the expensive moves between cities. Urban died on December 19, 1370, not even three months after returning to Avignon.

“Humanist” Gregory XI: It could not have hurt his prospects that Gregory XI was the nephew of “Good Times” Clement VI. As yet another civil and canon lawyer, he had familiar training to that of the previous Avignon Popes. Although he had inherited Urban’s sense that returning to Rome was the proper course, his French cardinals were much happier to have returned to their comfortable lands and palaces in Avignon and its environs, and King Charles V, one of the most capable of medieval French kings, continued his opposition to the papal court leaving Avignon. On the other hand, Saint Catherine of Siena rallied him: “Forward! Finish what you have begun!” In the end, the growing instability of the Papal States in Italy (1375) seems to have been the spur required to begin the move back to Rome. On January 17, 1377, the papal court once again took up its role in the Vatican, and the Avignon Papacy came to an end.

Most rooms of the Palace of the Popes have essentially no furnishings. This chamber outside the Chapelle Saint-Jean offered more exhibits than most.

… and the Anti-Popes

OR DID IT? Gregory XI’s death in the spring of 1378 brought about the election of Urban VI on April 8, 1378, the first Italian Pope since the unbroken string of Frenchmen that spanned the Avignon Papacy. Much as I enjoyed Mullin’s treatment of the Avignon popes, I feel he was off-base in his portrayal of Urban VI as essentially a paranoid tyrant. Wouldn’t you feel betrayed if the same French cardinals who had been part of the conclave that elected you then vanished to another city and named one of themselves as Pope? That said, even the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says, “If the first days of Urban’s pontificate were unhappy, his whole reign was a series of misadventures.”

Anti-Pope “Clement VIII” naturally gravitated to the recently vacated papal palace at Avignon. He claimed that he was simply awaiting the death of “crazy” Urban VI to become the Pope for all Christendom, but when Urban VI died in 1389, it became clear that Clement VIII did not have legitimacy outside the parts of Europe that had already acknowledged him.

The Palace gardens lie on two levels, with a children’s park just on the other side of the far wall. The sunlight of Provence is magical!

Clement VIII’s successor, “Benedict XIII,” had suggested that if elected as (Anti-)Pope, he would resign if the other Pope would resign so that a single Pope could lead Christendom. When the French king tried to get him to honor that pledge, however, Benedict XIII gave him the cold shoulder. That explains why the French king sent an army of mercenaries to start a siege at Avignon (and that’s when the palace gardens demonstrated their worth)! The wily Benedict XIII snuck himself out of his own palace in 1403. In 1409, the Western Schism was brought to an end when both popes were deposed and Martin V began his rule.

Avignon is a beautiful city with lots of fun spaces to enjoy, and the Palace of the Popes brings together history and fascination in a really unique combination. I hope one day that I can return with my favorite historian!

An image of the Palace of the Popes complex, photographed from the Île de la Barthelasse, published in Vingtain and Sauvageot

Legacy of the Templars and the Benedictines in Paris

Northeastern Paris offers two sites with immense religious heritage that are all but invisible today. I would like to step back in time a few centuries to the heydays of the Saint-Martin-des-Champs Priory and the Old Temple Quarter, just a few blocks southwest of Place de la République. What has become of these ancient sites?

Saint-Marin-des-Champs (red box to the west) and the Temple Quarter (red box to the east) have each taken on new roles in today’s Paris.

My first chance to wander through the Temple Quarter came when my big brother Tom visited Paris last month. He wanted to see parts of the city that related to the French Revolution, and so we planned a bit of a saunter through the northeastern area of the city:

  • Place de la République, which hosts an admirable timeline on its monument for the chief events of this period,
  • the Temple, which served as a prison for the royal family before their executions,
  • the Carnavalet Museum, which tells the history of Paris with great coverage for the revolution period, and
  • the Bastille, which was the site of one of the Revolution’s most dramatic events.

The Temple Quarter

A late 18th century maquette of the Temple Quarter from the Carnavaelt Museum. We are looking north.

The Temple Quarter takes its name from the Knights Templar, a Catholic organization founded in 1119 CE to protect pilgrims on their way to and from the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem after the city was captured during the First Crusade (1099 CE). The initial home of this order was on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but the knights were compelled to move their headquarters repeatedly when Jerusalem was recaptured by Muslim armies under Saladin in 1187 CE. Generous gifts of land and money fueled the growth of the Templars, and their 1139 CE settlement in the marshy area to the northeast of Paris’ city hall (“Marais” means “marsh”) rapidly transformed it into a rich farm, supported with windmills just outside the Porte du Temple.

This 19th century map of the Temple Quarter shows the Palace of the Prior with its U-shaped court (labeled “IV”), the donjon keep (four black dots joined in a square), and the church of Saint-Marie du Temple, which incorporated a rotunda design to resemble the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

When the Latin Kingdoms of the holy land were lost, the Temple Quarter became a European headquarters for the order. The Temple Quarter had considerable autonomy, as the Templars were not accountable to the King of France. That was acceptable to Philippe Augustus and to “Saint” Louis IX, but it was not to Philip IV “the Fair” (r. 1285-1314 CE). In 1307, he arrested the leaders of the Templars and subjected them to torture and trials. When the last of them were burned at the stake in 1314, the pyre was apparently at the western point of the Île de la Cité, near Place Dauphine. The Temple Quarter then became a home for the Knights Hospitallers, ironically a rival branch of Catholic knights from the Crusades. Over time, the Temple Quarter shifted from farmlands to the urban landscape shown in the maquette above.

This 18th century engraving by J. B. Rigaud looks east toward the palace of the prior. See also his view from inside the gates.

I would highlight two buildings of this complex. The palace of the prior, constructed by François Mansart in the 1660s, was the large building at the lower left corner of the maquette shown above. A horseshoe-shaped court draws attention to the building. At first, however, it was surrounded by gardens, as in the 17th century engraving below by Israel Silvestre.

The Palace of the Prior was grand, but it could not match the height of the donjon (great tower) of the Temple.

The donjon of the Temple, dating to the 13th century, made the most lasting impression on the citizens of Paris. As we saw at the Bastille, small bumps mark the outline of this tower on the pavement in front of the city hall for the third arrondissement of Paris. Because the royal family was held here before their execution in the French Revolution, it became a site of pilgrimage for royalists. That was intolerable to Napoleon I, so he ordered its destruction in the first decade of the 19th century.

A 1792 engraving. The text translates roughly to “people stare wide-eyed at the sight of these towers of the Temple containing Louis XVI and his family.”
The altar of Sainte-Élisabeth de Hongrie

On our walk through the Temple, we paused at the Church of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, just across the street from the former Temple Enclosure. The church, consecrated in 1648, for some time retained some works of art relating to the zenith of the Temple Quarter. I was glad my brother could see this church, since even humble parish churches in Europe are pretty eye-popping. I could almost hear the thoughts in his head, “this is older than my home country!”

The Square du Temple is a lovely place to relax in front of the 3rd Arrondissement town hall.

When we reached the Square of the Temple itself, you might ask what remains of the medieval Temple enclosure. The answer is… nothing. Today the square is a park of grassy lawns and a lovely reservoir. The other day, however, Natasha and I returned to this spot. We had arrived just as a tremendous street market was closing up. The market is linked to two locations nearby. Le Carreau du Temple was formerly a big cloth market, just northeast of the Square du Temple. The Marché des Enfants Rouges (market of the red children) is the oldest surviving covered market area in Paris, dating from 1615. It looked like a delightful place to shop and eat, if only we had had enough energy!

The Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs

An arithmetical machine for counting money, courtesy of Blaise Pascal (1645)

The reason we were out of energy was that we were coming from the Musée des Arts et Métiers, housed in a former Benedictine Priory just a few blocks to the west of the Temple. This museum of scientific and technological arts has one of the best collections I have ever seen! It particularly emphasizes great French innovators, such as Blaise Pascal, Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, Ferdinand Berthoud, Léon Foucault, Augustin-Jean Fresnel, Léon Bollée, Jacques Vaucanson, Louis-Nicolas Robert, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the Lumière brothers, Louis-Jacques Mandé Daguerre, Clément Ader, Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, and a host of others. All of these are represented by personal instruments, measurement standards, precision machinery, clockworks, cars, and even airplanes.

Natasha said she would be willing to try Otto’s Safety Bicycle (1879)

Given that the Paris skyline so prominently features the masterpiece of Gustave Eiffel, it is perhaps not so huge an omission that his name is not widely seen at the museum (he shows up as having helped August Bartholdi in creating the massive “Statue of Liberty Lighting the World” by building its iron skeleton). I was grateful that American pioneers also made an appearance, with prominent exhibits from Seymour Cray, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford. The museum sits cheek-by-jowl by the Arts et Métiers ParisTech, an engineering school dating from 1780 that has long led France’s efforts in mechanization and industrialization.

The chevet of Saint-Martin-des-Champs guards the entryway for the museum.

Given that this entire city block is given over to science and technology, it might be surprising to realize that this entire complex occupies the ground of the second-oldest church still standing in Paris (it was constructed just after Saint-Germain-des-Prés). The structure of Saint-Martin-des-Champs was first consecrated in 1067 CE for the Canons Regular by King Philippe I; the “des-Champs” part reflects that the church was build in the fields lying to the northeast of the city of Paris. I think it’s pretty funny that both London and Paris feature churches dedicated to Saint Martin in an area of the current city that was previously agricultural lands.

Western facade of Saint-Martin-des-Champs

At first the church design was essentially Romanesque. Two notable changes to its structure came in 1135 CE, when the chevet was rebuilt in a precursor to the Gothic style (much like Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre), and in 1455 CE, when its western facade was changed to a flat plane from its previous porch design. The thirteenth century saw the nave rebuilt on grander scale. Saint-Martin-des-Champs was constructed right on the boundary between the worlds of the Romanesque and of the Gothic.

Looking west from the chevet into the nave at Saint-Martin-des-Champs

Today, however, we encounter the nave of the church as the final display area of the museum. From the highest point of the ceiling a Foucault pendulum gently swings, showing evidence of the Earth’s rotation, and three different airplanes are suspended nearby. A grand piano was roped off in the axial chapel. The colors of the nave interior are quite lovely, reminding us that churches are not required to be dun and bland inside.

Looking east from the nave into the chevet at Saint-Martin-des-Champs

Nonetheless, it is clear that Saint-Martin-des-Champs is no longer a church. I was grateful I could spend a moment imagining it in an earlier time.

Étienne Martellange left us this 17th century drawing of the priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs at its height.

That is why I am glad we have images from the distant past to remind us of those times. The drawing above comes from 1630 CE. In 1079 CE, the church was given to the Benedictine order, particularly to the Cluny community (the same group that built the medieval mansion over Roman baths on the left bank). As a “daughter of Cluny,” Saint-Martin gained a belltower and a chapel by the early twelfth century. In the thirteenth century an adjoining refectory and dining hall was also constructed (today the dining hall houses the library of the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers).

This map from 1742 shows the extent of Saint-Martin-des-Champs Priory after Paris had grown to surround it.

Unlike the Temple, the buildings of Saint-Martin-des-Champs have remained intact and unified in purpose. Of course, training the next generations of the science and technology community is a rather different mission than serving as a home for the Benedictine order in the capital! The surprising proximity of the Temple to Saint-Martin-des-Champs (just about three blocks) contributed a structure to this area of Paris. When Philippe Auguste constructed his wall around the city in the thirteenth century, these two districts contributed neighboring gateways in the wall: Porte St. Martin (late 12th century) and Porte du Temple (completed in 1280 CE).

Porte Saint-Martin (1674), as viewed from the south

Today, however, it would be very easy to travel through this area of Paris and see little more than another old church and another pretty park. I am glad to have had the chance to examine each a little more closely!

Three churches for three different Montmartres

Because the first bishop of Paris was martyred on the slopes of the hill, Montmartre has been an obvious site for Christian veneration throughout the history of France, even serving as a site for pilgrimage. I wanted to draw attention to three churches that currently stand on the hill to explore three different “looks” at the city. Two of them stand close together near the crest of the hill, while the other stands (appropriately) next to the Abbesses Metro station.

Saint-Pierre de Montmartre: 1131-1134 AD

The north flank of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, photographed in the third quarter of the 19th century (from archives of Musée de Vieux Montmartre)

If you enjoy churches that approach a millennium in age, Paris is a rich feast! I have written previously about Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the earliest church still standing in the present city of Paris (before 1014 AD). Philippe Plagnieux, who wrote a wonderful architectural history of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, also wrote a helpful introduction to Saint-Pierre de Montmartre. Saint-Pierre was a project near and dear to the heart of Louis VI (le Gros), the first Capetian king of France to make serious investment in royal institutions. As an example of the importance of this church to the rulers, his queen, Adélaïde of Maurienne, was buried there. The church was the centre of a Benedictine abbey created in 1134.

Drawing of Abbaye de Montmartre, circa 1625 (National Library of France)

St. Pierre was the first church in Paris to represent the new Gothic style (yes, before Notre Dame and before the Basilica of Saint-Denis, too). Sometimes the leading edge is actually the “bleeding edge,” though, and St. Pierre certainly seems to have had some challenges resulting from this design experiment. Around 1170 much of the apse was rebuilt, and the buttresses of the side apses were reinforced. Archive documentation showed that a variety of repairs and additions were required over the next centuries, contributing both ornamental features, such as “flamboyant” rib vaults on the central nave, and structural ones, such as new buttresses or choir alterations.

St. Pierre was capped by an optical telegraph tower after the French Revolution. Image from National Library of France

As with other churches, St. Pierre suffered worse than neglect during the French Revolution. I was astonished to learn that the admirable field of view for the church made it the site of an optical telegraph tower during the Revolution (if you are a fan of Terry Pratchett, it was similar to the Clacks)! The tower was only removed in the mid-19th century.

This is the part of St. Pierre you are most likely to see!

The way that most tourists will encounter St. Pierre is by approaching from the west side, coming from Place du Tertre. From that vantage, one can only see the facade constructed in the 18th century. The tourist route will then lead around the north side of the church (without much view of it, sadly) and then across its east end (the chevet). This is where one could have a great view of this historic church. Frustratingly, there are two problems with this vantage. First, this walk is now designed to funnel tourists to the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur, so this massive, gleaming white church draws one’s attention away from its venerable neighbor. Second, the street is lower than the ground level on which St. Pierre sits, so one tends to photograph the wall rather than the church!

Sacré-Cœur Basilica: 1873-1914

The church is also impressive from the northwest approach.

After the 1870 Battle of Sedan, Napoleon III abdicated, ending the Second Empire period of France. The sense of national humiliation led to the bloody revolt of the Paris Commune (1871), which was terminated through the deaths of thousands of Parisians. French Catholics began looking to the Sacred Heart devotion for a way to revive order, and monarchists were able to swing legislative support behind the project to construct a prominent basilica atop Montmartre (interestingly, the conservatives had eyed the flamboyant, still-under-construction Garnier Opera as a potential site for their church). To say the site at Montmartre was controversial is an understatement: “When you think to establish on the commanding heights of Paris– the fount of free thought and revolution– a catholic monument, what is in your thoughts? To make of it the triumph of the Church over revolution” (from a republican deputy in National Assembly, quoted by David Harvey). For its part, the Sacré-Cœur website denies that repressing revolutionaries contributed to the location or style of the church.

If you had to decide which church would grace the tallest hill in Paris, which would you choose? from Paris Bibliothèques Patrimoniale

Paul Abadie was an architect who frequently teamed with Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, a controversial figure in the restoration of medieval structures. His proposal for the 1873 design competition for the new church on Montmartre (bottom middle above) was selected.

This image from Paris Bibliothèques Patrimoniale illustrates how close together St.-Pierre and Sacré-Cœur are positioned as well as the depth required for a stable foundation for the latter.

The controversy surrounding the church, the unsteady funding to sustain it, and problems in the terrain all combined to prevent the completion of the church before 1914; gypsum mining was quite common on Montmartre [“Plaster of Paris”], and so a deep foundation of 33 meters (more than 100 feet) was required. Paul Abadie never saw his designs reach fruition, since he died in 1884.

Closeup of south facade

Sacré-Cœur Basilica seems very unusual among the Gothic churches of Paris, and that reflects Abadie’s choice to adopt a “Romano-Byzantine” fusion for the church instead. To look for precedents, one should look at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul instead of Notre Dame. The enormous mosaic over the choir continues the Byzantine theme. We should not make the mistake of thinking Sacré-Cœur Basilica has its gaze fixed outside of France, though. The massive equestrian statues atop the front portico represent Louis IX and Jeanne d’Arc, with Saint Louis holding his inverted sword pommel as a cross of justice and Joan of Arc with her sword raised, ready to smite a fool.

Église Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste-de-Montmartre: 1894-1904

The facade to Place des Abbesses is very striking and feels quite modern.

…And now for something completely different. During the same years that Sacré-Cœur was developing on the crest of Montmartre, a very different church was being built at the Place des Abbesses. Father Sobaux led the parish of Montmartre and realized that the population he served was larger than one church could manage, and creating a new church halfway down the hill would be able to draw from many growing neighborhoods. In choosing to work with architect Anatole de Baudot (a disciple of Viollet-Le-Duc), Father Sobaux had decided to use a revolutionary new technique; iron framing had brought about Art Nouveau, and now reinforced concrete would make for stronger and thinner supports in larger structures (this was key for maximizing the heavily sloped, very small lot available for the church), not to mention far cheaper construction than stone.

It is worth looking upward as you enter the church!

What they had not expected was a hostile city council and judiciary. The church publised a parish bulletin with the cute name “La Demi Butte” (something like “halfway up the hill”). In its January 1914 issue, Father Sobaux laid out the full story of obstreperous shenanigans bored bureaucrats could throw at a project trying something new (the Third Republic of France was not known for good relations with the Catholic Church, either). The first stone had been laid in 1897. In 1901, however, construction came to a halt when Father Sobaux was called to defend the church in civil court for the charge of having created an unsafe building, where a guilty verdict would bear the penalty of demolition of the structure and a hefty fine on the Church. Before the cardinal decided whether to throw his resources behind Father Sobaux’s defense, he hired Mr. Boutilhier, inspector general of bridges and roads, to decide whether the city’s architects were correct in thinking the structure was unsound. Among other tests, Mr. Boutilhier loaded the nave with bags of sand to produce a weight of 600 kilograms per square meter (>1300 pounds per square yard) and left them in place for weeks. The inspector general’s report fully supported the structural integrity of the church. In 1902, the Prefect of the Seine withdrew the charges against the church, and work was able to continue. In 1904, it opened its doors to the new congregation.

These slender columns were very controversial in the construction of the church.

Natasha and I saw the church with our own eyes during our Montmartre meander. I read about this marvel in a book from the American Library in Paris, so I was really pleased when Natasha showed an interest in seeing the inside. Our eyes adjusted to the dun interior, and then our mouths just dropped open. The facade exterior hints at beautiful ceramic work to be found inside. The interlocked arches forming a railing to the balcony contrast tiny mosaic tiles against a gray-bronze of the painted concrete. While the large crucifixion scene in stained glass in the southern wall might draw your attention first, the smaller stained glass windows used incredibly vivid colors.

Is it apparent that this church was revolutionary in its construction methods? Thinking about it the following day, Natasha said, “I have never seen a church that seems so feminine!”

Kings, Vikings, and Saints: St. Germain des Prés

A very different Paris

The oldest church in today’s Paris was established outside the city walls during the sixth century A.D. It is older than “France,” since the area including Paris became known as Neustria in the aftermath of Clovis I’s death in 511. Childebert I, a son of Clovis, ruled Neustria from Paris until his death in 558. During his last fifteen years, Childebert I concluded a war against the Visigoths in Spain and constructed a basilica near Paris (which barely extended beyond the Île de la Cité, the island on which Notre Dame now stands) to celebrate St. Vincent. As his death approached, Childebert I left the basilica to St. Vincent in the care of Germain, the Bishop of Paris, who established a monastery supporting it. For more than a century, the Merovingian kings over Neustria were laid to rest in the church.

This glass window, created for the Chapel of the Virgin at St. Germain des Prés, celebrating the life of St. Vincent of Saragossa, is now on display at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

As this line of “long-haired” kings wound down, the perception of the basilica to St. Vincent changed. After Bishop Germain died in 576, he was buried in a portico to the church, and several miracles were claimed for the site. In 754, Pope Stephen II canonized him as Saint Germanus of Paris. St. Germain was relocated along with his relics inside the basilica in 756, and the informal understanding that this basilica was St. Germain’s became permanent. The “des Prés” part of its name describes the flood-prone fields on the south side of the Seine at that time; the church itself was built on a small hill.

Europe would be very different today without the rise of Charlemagne in 768, though people who think of him as French should remember that he established his capital at Aachen (part of what is now Germany), not Paris. The illusory unity of Europe under Charlemagne vanished with his death in 814. The eruption of civil war among forces loyal to different sons of Charlemagne left Europe rather naked against the Viking expansion of the 9th century.

Embed from Getty Images

I was impressed by the energy Danielle Turner gives to the tale of two Viking sieges of Paris (845 and 885). Addo, a monk and deacon at Saint Germain des Prés, chronicled the 885 siege in a two-book saga of (not-so-great) Latin poetry. Because St. Germain des Prés lay on the south bank of the Seine, it was a convenient base of operations for the Danes during the sieges. They found the abbey’s materials useful to repair ships and to support their siege, and they stripped the building. The relics of St. Germain were moved from his sarcophagus to the Île de la Cité for safety before these attacks. Both sieges ended when the king of West Francia sent soldiers to pay off the Danes, giving us the term “danegeld.” The monks explained that a vision of Saint Germain had contributed to the Danes’ willingness to retreat from Paris, and city leaders contributed gems and gold to construct a new reliquary for St. Germain’s relics that would be more portable than a sarcophagus.

Creating the church in its prime

As the next millennium dawned, a new central church for the abbey was constructed for St. Germain des Prés due to donations by King Robert the Pious (996-1031), the second king from the House of Capet. This is the earliest period of construction for which significant elements remain in the present-day church. The church was built on a cruciform design, with a nave running east and west and a transept crossing it from north to south with a chapel at both ends. Before you look at the diagram below, I want to emphasize two things about the church of ~1000 A.D.: (1) The church was originally constructed in a Romanesque style, rather than the early Gothic we see today. (2) The “chevet” (essentially where the head would fall if a person were on that cross) and its radiating chapels at the right were not part of that church yet.

This image from W.W. Clark dissects the Abbey of St.-Germain-des-Prés into its different phases of construction.

A diagram from a 1979 article by William W. Clark reveals the different layers of construction that produced today’s St. Germain des Prés. The feature that draws your eye as you stand in Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés is definitely the huge bell tower of the church (appearing at the left of the diagram above). It is not a delicately crafted tower like the beautiful Giralda of the Cathedral at Seville. Instead it is rough-cast, with asymmetric elements and bricked-up windows. Parts of this tower have been standing for more than 1,000 years, so it probably needed all of that toughness to survive.

The bell tower has a different personality from each side (from north, from west, and from southeast, respectively).

From an architectural perspecitve, the really remarkable element of St. Germain des Prés is its “chevet,” which began construction around 1145 A.D. Many Catholic churches featured a variety of chapels that had been contributed by wealthy patrons, of course, but the architects of St. Germain des Prés created a new choir (east area behind the altar), an ambulatory (a circular walk outside the choir), and radiating chapels, with a unitary design held in place by flying buttresses. They used the early Gothic architecture that had been attempted for the first time at the Abbey of St. Denis (1135-1140) and the Cathedral of Sens (1140-1164).

This image of the chevet was possible through my fisheye lens. At the left you can see the base where one of the towers once stood.

In 1245, a master builder laid the cornerstone for a new Chapel of the Virgin, just north of the church of today. Its former location is now filled with businesses, since it was demolished in 1802. Small fragments of this chapel can be found all over the planet, though, because the radiant stained glass panels that decorated the chapel are preserved in a variety of museums and churches, such as The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (they hold the one near the top of this post). The portal of the chapel is preserved at the Cluny Museum.

Especially the windows of the back of the choir are universally admired, so much for this diversity and liveliness of color, only because when entering, the brilliant red of those in the middle strikes and dazzles in some way and stand out so well from the other panes, that they look (not badly) like a big fire in the middle of gray, white, blue, black, and of all strong colors. The colors of each are so strong and so vivid that they seem to come fresh from the hands of the Worker. These are colors which so many centuries have not yet made dead, and which we will never see die.

“Memories of Pere Francois Guignard” in Henri Sauval’s Histoire et Recherches des Antiquités de la Ville de Paris (1724), p. 341
Drawing of the 1802 Demolition of the Chapel of the Virgin, by Dagoty

The abbey began hosting a popular city fair on grounds near the church. In 1482 Louis XI established fairgrounds for this purpose. For the next three hundred years, Parisians could enjoy a three-to-five week celebration around the time of Easter. During his brief reign (1814-1815), Louis XVIII transformed the remaining fairgrounds into the Saint Germain Market.

The abbot’s palace looks pretty good for being 437 years old!

In 1584, the abbey constructed a palace for the abbot. The building, now actively used as an educational institution, looks surprisingly modern in its brick and stone facade; it was one of the first buildings to prototype that style for Paris. Today’s Place de Furstenberg was the stable-yard for the palace. When I visited the Place, a large group of high school students had occupied the island in the middle, so I photographed the palace but not the stable-yard.

This excerpt from a engraving in the reign of Louis XIII (circa 1615) shows the Abbey of St. Germain des Prés outside the city walls of Paris. The Chapel of the Virgin adjoins the church immediately to its left.

By the 17th century, the church was in dire condition; “the framework was worthless and threatened to collapse” [P. Plagnieux 2000]. During 1644-1646, the main nave was replaced in Gothic style, with new ribs, columns, and vaults. This transition is likely to have greatly increased the light inside the church while unifying the church building as a whole; the mismatch between the Romanesque nave and the early Gothic chevet must have been quite a striking difference.

A path to demolition or to restoration?

The next two centuries had big changes in store for the church. At the start of the 18th century, St. Germain in the fields was no longer in the fields! The bounds of Paris at last had grown far enough to encompass the former abbey:

Of the quarters defined by the ordonnance of 1702, Saint-Germain-des-Prés was the twentieth and last, a sufficient sign that it was not similar in kind to the others. The old abbey, which had remained outside Charles V’s walls but was fortified at the same epoch, kept its defences until the 1670s and was never part of Paris. When all the fortifications were pulled down, the abbey also demolished its crenellated precinct and filled up the ditches over which the major streets of the present-day quarter were built.

from page 100, The Invention of Paris, by Eric Hazan

After centuries of being apart from Paris, Saint-Germain-des-Prés was now absorbed into the growing metropolis. Of course, France itself was undergoing extreme changes throughout the eighteenth century, culminating in the French Revolution (1789-1799). The September Massacres of 1792 were triggered by a lethal street fight on the 26th of August between armed volunteers and three men near the prison de l’Abbaye (next door to the church, where the Boulevard Saint-Germain now runs).

The Prison of the Abbey (image courtesy of Brown University)

That evening, a kangaroo court of 12 people began “trials” of prisoners, generally people who had been arrested defending the king during the taking of the Tuileries Palace. Of the Swiss guards who had been taken in the assault, more than 100 were found “guilty,” and they were passed into a courtyard in the prison where hooligans with weapons waited to murder them. The grisly killings were part of a larger pattern of terror in Paris, as many revolutionaries began using the opportunity to destroy people they thought might be plotting against the revolution, leaving more than 1,000 dead.

By November, the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés was closed. The complex was transformed into “The Saltpeter Refinery of Unity.” The nave was repurposed to drill rifle barrels, and forges were established in the cloister. The abbot’s palace was used for a coal deposit. The treasures of the church, from ancient times to modern, were collected and carried away in a procession. The ancient resting places of kings and saints were emptied. “The tombs, the cenotaphs of the kings of France, were annihilated, and their bones thrown into a mass grave” [FR Dumas, Histoire de St Germain des Prés, p. 203]. It is unsurprising that Dom Poirier thought that the abbey would not survive: “Thus ended the religious society established by King Childebert, son of Clovis, and by Saint Germain, bishop of Paris, after having persisted without interruption for twelve hundred and fifty years.” [ibid]

Producing arms and ammunition was clearly hazardous, and an explosion and fire on August 19, 1794 gutted the Chapel of the Virgin and threatened the abbey library. Many books and documents were preserved by moving them to the National Library and the National Archives over the next two years. The Commission on Civil Buildings soon expected that all of the buildings remaining to Saint-Germain-des-Prés would require demolition.

The complete erasure of this abbey might have taken place, but in 1820, Étienne-Hippolyte Godde, chief inspector of the department for cemeteries and church buildings in Paris, intervened. For centuries, the church nave had been flanked by twin towers (see the image from the reign of Louis XIII above). Godde made many changes to the structure of the church and removed the tops of these two towers, but then the technology available to him could not replace them. The bases of these towers are still visible as one walks around the outside of the church. [P. Plagniuex 2000]

The church structure of Saint-Germain-des-Prés has come a long way since the days when it was nearly demolished. That said, you will see evidence everywhere in the church that restoration is an ever-continuing job. Already the colors of its interior and mural work have been liberated from the smoke and oxidation of centuries. I would definitely encourage everyone to visit the church, visit their website, and donate to this necessary restoration!

Malawi: the Unlikely St. Michael’s and All Angels Church

An index to the Malawi series appears on the first post.

A tiny history

The western shore of Lake Malawi could not have expected the impact of David Livingstone‘s 1859 visit. His advocacy upon his return to the United Kingdom spurred both commercial and religious interests to explore the heart of Africa. The Universities Mission to Central Africa established a mission at Magomero in 1861, but its effort ended in disaster as the Yao people became more aggressive in their pursuit of slaves to market at Zanzibar, food supplies became problematic, and malaria/dysentery took the life of Bishop McKenzie and others. The Free Church of Scotland made the next move by establishing the Livingstonia mission west of the Lake in 1875, but the Church of Scotland opted again for the highlands of the Shire river, much further south, to found its mission in 1876. They chose the name “Blantyre” for the mission to commemorate the Scottish town where Livingstone had been born. In 1878, the Livingstonia Central Africa Company (soon renamed the Africa Lakes Corporation) was founded in Glasgow, taking residence with the mission in 1879. The Berlin Conference of 1884 launched the Scramble for Africa, as European powers carved spheres of influence from the continent of Africa. In 1891, the United Kingdom ratified its claim to the British Central Africa Protectorate, on the strength of its missionary and economic activities there.

Livingstonia is shown by marker 1, while Magomero is shown by marker 2. Image produced in hamstermap.com

The 1876 Blantyre mission was established in a prime location, using the ruins of a village. Why had this site been abandoned? The Yao were not the only people on the move in Malawi at the time. The Ngoni had arrived in Malawi after migrating north to evade the “Mfecane” dislocations. The villagers who had lived in the area that became Blantyre had fled to live in the more easily defended hills that surround Blantyre (much as Moshoeshoe had relocated the Basotho to Thaba Bosiu). Dr. John MacRae, the original leader of the Blantyre Mission, “came to the conclusion that the mission ought to be above all else a refuge for slaves and that it would have to be a self-governing settlement, exercising a strong and disciplinary authority over all the inhabitants, whether native or expatriate.” This policy put it squarely at odds with some of the populations it hoped to convert to Christianity. In 1878, one of two men accused of murdering a woman resident at the mission was gruesomely executed by the mission, developing into a scandal that entirely replaced the mission’s leadership team. David Clement Scott was sent to Blantyre, arriving in 1881. Alice De Planta, a missionary who worked with David Scott, wrote in her diary that “It seems impossible to describe Dr. Scott. You had to know him to realise his many gifts. There was no man so misunderstood as him, some people have two sides to their character – his must have been octagonal!” Within a decade, he had created a dictionary of the Mang’anja language spoken in the area. Rev. Scott was able to improve relations with local chiefs by agreeing to pay compensation for slaves that took sanctuary with the mission.

April 11, 2019

The church, as seen from the south side

Rev. Scott’s most lasting physical legacy in Blantyre, however, is St. Michael and All Angels Church. The structure was intended from the beginning as a church for all Christians in the area, not just a “white” church. As many as 2000 members of the local population joined in the three-year effort to build the structure.

Do you see the pineapple bricks?

Every brick in the building was made from clay dug from anthills on site, and over 81 different forms of bricks were used, each made in its specially carved mould. Many of these wooden moulds were shaped and carved by the Revd. Scott himself, helped by his brother, Dr. W. A. Scott, and designs include flowers, circles, oak leaves and pineapples. No detailed plans were prepared and as the building grew, so the Revd. Scott experimented by laying bricks without mortar. After judging the effect, the bricks were permanently laid with lime. During the first few months he was greatly helped by David Buchanan, a stone-mason, who chiselled the only stone in the building – the keystone over the West door. So well was the church built that only recently has the need for any repairs or restoration arisen.

Blantyre’s Early Buildings” by John Lamport-Stokes
The tower designs differ from each other!

Although the leaders of the mission did not have training in architecture or construction, they decided upon a complex design that required considerable ingenuity, particularly for the three planned domes.

There was in some quarters criticism of the building of so elaborate a church, but he defends it thus: “It brings more men to the place, and that from far and near; it teaches them work and the fruits of work– beauty.”

“Blantyre Mission,” by Rev. Stephen Green
The bell tower near the church

On my second full day in Blantyre, I was grateful for the chance to visit the church. Nixon Chitimbe, a driver with the BHRTT, had been occupied with tasks in town for much of the afternoon, but he was still cheerfully willing to transport M.Sc. students Osborne and Temwani with me over to the church around four in the afternoon. Apparently, a school complex surrounding the church had just finished classes, and the grounds east of the church were filled with children. I wandered around to take some photos while Nixon and the students sought someone who could admit us into the church itself. I was surprised to see that the design for the bell tower seemed to echo some of the Moorish designs we had recently seen in Andalucia!

The nave in afternoon sunlight

In no time at all, they arrived with a minister in tow. He opened the main door between the towers, and we immediately encountered a heap of wooden chairs, extending from the door to the altar area at the opposite end. The church floor was being varnished, and so the smell of acetone accompanied our walkabout. Our guide noted that some of these chairs could, themselves, be classed as antiques. We navigated our way to the pipe organ. Since some of the pipes are a bit wayward, I am inclined to think it is no longer in playable condition.

The blue bricks represent one of the three corbel vaults, in this case over the main altar.

The afternoon sunlight seemed ideal for enjoying the artistry of the stained-glass windows. The crucifixion scene over the altar incorporates a quote from John 12:32: “and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” I wasn’t as clear on another scene with a supplicant encountering Jesus. The baptism of Jesus appeared right next to the organ.

I gazed at this artwork over the entrance door. Which parts are brick? Which are carved? Which are cast?

As we returned to the truck to head to our next stop, I felt a sense of delight at having seen this remarkable building. A couple of students walking by seemed to catch my jovial mood. They asked me to take their picture, so I did. One of them opted for dabbing, while the other gave me a two-handed “hang loose” and a grimace. I could only laugh.

Of course St. Michael must make an appearance at his namesake!

Seville: a Cathedral to the sky and the Giralda bell tower

An index to blog posts from our Spain trip can be found on the first entry.

December 29, 2018

Growing up in the United States, I frequently found myself “rooting for” Great Britain as I learned European history. I thrilled at Elizabeth I grappling with the Catholic menace of the Spanish Armada. To visit the massive Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See at Sevilla felt a bit like visiting Red Square to me!

A bit of history

A view of the cathedral from the entrance of Alcazar

[I am grateful to Danya Crites for many details from her excellent dissertation.]

Quite a long stretch of time lies between the Christian capture of Sevilla in 1248 and the construction of its Gothic cathedral, beginning in the 1430s. Along the way, Pedro I popularized the Mudejar style with his magnificent Alcazar palace. At Cordoba, the Mezquita had been modified only slightly for use as a Catholic cathedral (though this would soon change). Why, then, would the mosque at Sevilla be doomed to destruction, especially since its Giralda tower was so widely admired? The earthquake of 1356 might be a partial answer. October 18, 1356 brought the most destructive earthquake ever to strike central Europe, but Basel is a long way from Seville! Seville’s earthquake had arrived two months earlier, on August 24th. The force of the quake dislodged the yamur (pinnacle) of four gilded balls from the top of the giant Giralda, and it caused damage to another church tower in the city. Royal patronage was sought to rebuild churches throughout the city, and many of them opted for the new Mudejar style that had been popularized by Pedro’s Palace (even after his half-brother became king in his place). The mosque and Giralda, however, limped along until bigger changes arrived in the 1430s, when substantial construction began. Permission to demolish the royal chapel that had held the remains of Ferdinand III, conqueror of Seville, was not obtained until 1433; another earthquake in 1431 may have reminded the city that the old mosque was no longer structurally sound.

Who doesn’t love a stained glass window?

The clergy of Seville attempted to produce the largest Christian Church in the world, with the completed Cathedral of Toledo as a starting point. Their plans were stunning in scope, with a nave that measured 76 by 115 meters, larger than the cathedral at Milan (begun 1386 A.D.) or Florence (1296 A.D.) or Ulm (1377 A.D.). St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican (1506 A.D.) was the only near contemporary to exceed its footprint or volume. In recent years, the Basilica at Aparecida, Brazil has exceeded the square area and volume of the Sevilla Cathedral. Sevilla remains the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe, though. In 1677, Zuniga wrote in his history of the city that one of the chapter members exclaimed “We will have a church so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad!” It’s a great quote, even if it was wholly fabricated.

The Renaissance dome of the Chapterhouse really blew my mind.

As construction continued, the design was influenced by the strong relationship between church leadership and the Catholic Monarchs. Queen Isabella I favored a design that represented a transition between late Gothic and early Renaissance styles; because of her, this type is called “Isabelline.” Mudejar design elements had lost the royal vogue that Pedro I had conferred more than a hundred years before. As Renaissance design became more popular, its incompatibility with Mudejar imposed more limitations, and eventually the Mudejar style simply lost its momentum. The Cathedral was completed in 1511, though the collapse of a crossing element just five years later required additional construction.

Our visit

That short wall is the coro, with organ pipes ascending to either side.

As I walked into the cathedral’s nave, I muttered to myself, “Go up, or go home.” It is clear that the designers wanted a ceiling lost in the heavens. The coro “box” structure was several times my height, and the organ pipes launched from there into the skies.

The retablo showing scenes from the life of Jesus

The high altar “retablo” apparently consumed the entire lifetime of Pierre Dancart to carve; it features 45 scenes from the life of Jesus. As I’ve seen in other Catholic churches, though, the beautiful carving is sequestered behind bars of iron. One could be sitting in the front row of pews and yet be unable to see the details of any of the scenes.

Where did all of South America’s silver go?

Sevilla has accumulated many priceless artifacts and reliquaries over time. We saw amazing pieces in the main vestry and chapter house. Natasha pointed me to a large silver monstrance reliquary purported to contain a “Holy Thorn” (as in the Crown of Thorns).

This isn’t the Thorn. I just thought it was pretty.

I really loved a woodcarving that had once been given to the Duke of Parma.

I would never expect such remarkable detail from wood!

Any American visiting Seville Cathedral will be sure to stop at the Tomb of Christopher Columbus. It’s very stately, with the kings of Leon, Aragon, Castile, and Navarre each represented by a pall-bearer wearing the coat of arms for each kingdom. The figures seem almost ghostly to me. It’s an impressive sight, whether or not the explorer is inside the casket.

The stately pall-bearers of Columbus.

Hunting for Saint Ferdinand

I had a more obscure goal in mind, though. I wanted to see the tomb of Ferdinand III, the Castilian king who captured Cordoba and Seville. His tomb, however, was in the altar of the royal chapel and it was not open to the public on the day of our visit. I was glad to see a painting of him in the Cathedral entrance hall, though.

Ferdinand III, King of Castile, Saint, and lover of architecture

Since the cathedral calendar showed that a service would be held that night at 18:00, and the royal chapel was slated to be open at that time. I came to the cathedral that night, entering from the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes rather than the main door. Sure enough a corral there allowed me to see that the royal chapel was open, but I could not get closer. I mentioned to the security guard that I had hoped to see Ferdinand III’s tomb, and he surprised me by walking me to the entrance! It would be very hard to miss seeing the tomb as it dominates the altar. Letters hung quite high above the altar read “Per Me Reges Regnant,” (essentially, kings rule in order to serve God). I loved that his tomb is inscribed in Arabic, Latin, and Hebrew!

The Giralda

[Let’s back up time to our afternoon visit.]

To complete our visit to the cathedral, Natasha and I were determined to visit the famous bell tower of Seville. Ferdinand III rode a horse to the top of this tower when he conquered the city, and we would follow in the horse’s steps! Our path put among hundreds of other tourists, though, and soon we were climbing the ramps leading up the four sides of the tower, occasionally pausing to let blobs of tourists clear downward. I believe our ascent of the 34 landings took us roughly half an hour. The observation level sits just below a carillon of bells. They were beautiful, hanging ponderously above us, but all the tourists were scrambling for the perimeter of the tower to shoot as many selfies and panoramic images as possible.

Does nobody climb a bell tower to see the bells?

I shot a few telephoto images from each of the four balconies, but it was hard to aim in the bright sunlight.

The Giralda is the highest structure for miles. This is the Iglesia de Santa Cruz.

Shooting on the descent was rather more fun. Natasha and I visited each of the central alcove museum exhibits on the way down, and Natasha spotted some really fetching gargoyles. For me, the highlight would be the clock mechanism that operated from 1400 to 1960. Let’s hear it for the engineers!

These fellows had a lot of character.

With that, Natasha and I erupted into the Patio of Oranges, almost missing the (faux) stuffed alligator and elephant tusk hanging above the exit. We both enjoyed being in this, the oldest part of the cathedral. We had seen a very similar patio of orange trees at the Mezquita, after all. We had been at the Cathedral for only three hours, though it seemed that every minute was packed with some wonder or another. Natasha found another laugh as she spotted a rude face sculpted in the exit gate.

I don’t know why he guards the exit, but I like him.

For the folks back home…

I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and so I couldn’t help but notice a lot of the buildings and fountains in Seville have been replicated in my home town. I wanted to include these images so others from home will know that they can see a bit of Kansas City in Seville, our sister city!

Our avenue is not an afterthought, and you can find it right by the train station!
I believe this fountain will be familiar to many of us!

Seville: We find the Spanish Inquisition

An index to blog posts from our Spain trip can be found on the first entry.

December 27, 2018

Doesn’t everybody go in search of the Spanish Inquisition when they visit Sevilla?

Arriving by train early in the day, we were gratified to learn that the Hotel Alcazar was literally across the street from the back gardens of that fortress and that they would happily store our bags until the room was ready! After a bit of planning with the map, we were off to lunch at a restaurant she had learned about in a celiac forum for Sevilla. We started by walking up to the Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca (formerly a mosque and formerly a synagogue). From there we passed through a bewildering succession of Iglesias, Plazas, and Calles to satisfy Google Maps. We came to rest quite near Plaza Nueva and munched our toasty sandwiches on gluten-free bread quite hungrily.

We started at the right and ran in a big, counter-clockwise loop.

Would every walk between sites be so crowded with people? Would every path dodge back and forth among so many streets and alleys? Already, we knew Sevilla would be less laid-back than our experience in Cordoba.

He’s a king! He’s a saint! He’s a statue!

We re-emerged at Plaza Nueva to see an equestrian statue of Ferdinand III of Castile. I have mentioned him previously as the Christian king who reclaimed the cities of Cordoba and Sevilla; the latter became the new capital city for Castile. He was canonized as a saint two centuries later. It is not entirely surprising, then, to find a statue celebrating him in Sevilla, especially given that city hall is at the same plaza!

We continued from there to Puente (bridge) de Triana, which offers a lovely view of the riverside docks that would once have served the voyages of exploration to the New World.

Yes, an ocean-going vessel can come upriver to Sevilla!

My attention, though, was fixed on the other end of the bridge, near which one can find the Centro Tematico de la Tolerancia del Castillo de San Jorge (the Tolerance Center of the Castle of Saint George). This name might seem rather obscure, so I’ll put it more plainly; the Castle of San Jorge was the center of operations for the Spanish Inquisition for almost 300 years.

Why did the Inquisition come to Spain and linger so long?

As the Chrisitan kingdoms reconquered the Iberian Peninsula, they found themselves inheriting a diverse and cosmopolitan population. The Jewish community of Spain had been persecuted under the Visigoths, and some Jews actually worked with the Muslims to encourage their invasion from North Africa. Living in a Muslim state worked out well for many Jews, though they did have to pay a yearly tax because they were not Muslims. After the fall of the Caliphate, al Andalus devolved into small taifa city-states, and the Jewish experience was more uneven. The Almoravids and Almohads both came to the Iberian Peninsula with deep suspicion of other religious groups, and Jewish schools and synagogues were closed or destroyed.

At some points in history, it seemed that Jews would be able to find a modus vivendi with the Christian kingdoms. The rules of Fedinand I of Castile and Alfonso VI showed promise, with Jews sometimes being afforded nominally full equality with Christians. By the time of Ferdinand III of Castile and James I of Aragon, however, segregation was back with a vengeance. Jews were compelled to wear yellow badges on their clothing. By the 14th century, the relationship between Christians and Jews had degraded so far that outright massacres took place. A good relationship had formed between the Jewish community and Pedro I (“The Cruel”) of Castile. Pedro’s half-brother Henry of Trastamera, however, rebelled against Pedro (ultimately becoming king in his place), and he massacred Jewish populations in several areas during 1366 to curry favor with the Christian masses. Ferrand Martinez, archdeacon of Ecija, also exploited this popular prejudice, and he persisted for decades to foment hatred against the Jewish community until his influence was felt in a variety of cities throughout the peninsula. On June 9, 1391, the people of Sevilla mobbed the Juderia district of the city, killing approximately 4000 people. This scourge then jumped from city to city.

As the Christians conquered cities from the Moors, then, they suddenly controlled many new citizens who were Jewish or who were Muslim. When Ferdinand and Isabella married, they gained the title “Catholic Monarchs” because of many actions to ensure that their kingdoms would be Catholic (not merely Christian). They completed the Reconquista in 1492 by taking Granada; it was the first time in more than 700 years that a Muslim kingdom no longer ruled any part of Spain! Queen Isabella took this opportunity to declare that no Jews would be allowed to remain in the Christian kingdoms. Any Jew who wanted to remain in Spain became a “Converso” by converting to Christianity; the expelled Sephardic Jewish community was spread to the four winds. Some Conversos, however, secretly retained Jewish practices at home. Similarly, Muslims were heavily pressured to become Christians, becoming “Moriscos.” The Christian kings, however, were inclined to distrust former Muslims and their descendants. Many Moriscos were expelled from Spain during 1609-1614.

If I may summarize this complex situation badly, Queen Isabella wanted the help of the Catholic Church in imposing religious conformity on the people of Castile and Aragon. In 1478, the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition answered that call. It would not be disbanded until 1834. What resulted was a profound injustice that should never be forgotten.

Our visit to San Jorge

Because the Castillo de San Jorge was razed in the early 19th century, the Center mostly guides tourists through the ruins (only recovered in the 1990s) to highlight the various ground-level structures. I was very glad that they included a scale model of the castle from its more operational days. The tour reminds us that the Spanish Inquisition had to manage day-to-day affairs like its mule stables and its bureaucracy (nuncio and notary). I responded strongly to the description of the “familiares,” who worked to convince their fellow citizens to cast suspicion on their neighbors. It seemed reprehensible to pay people to convince others to name targets of inquiry.

This model represents San Jorge during its use as the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition.

I found the following outline on the inquisitorial process particularly helpful. The museum used the fictional example of a young woman trained in herbs who had been accused of witchcraft to walk through the steps.

  • Edict of faith / grace: This period allowed for voluntary confession and for implication of others.
  • Qualifying and Accusation: This phase required something like a “grand jury” of theologians to decide whether the evidence of heresy was compelling.
  • Clamosa: Detention was accompanied by confiscation of worldly goods. Interrogation was not limited to the “crime” but included one’s forebears and family members
  • Hearing: Immediate responses to charges were required, with no lawyers present. Defenses usually rested on showing that the accusers were known enemies, that the judges were predisposed against the victim, and establishing one’s character through witnesses.
  • Torment: Torture by the rack (stretching by ropes at wrists and ankles) was common, but the Inquisition had a wide variety of options.
  • Sentence: Inquisitors, the bishop’s representative, and legal experts reached a conclusion for each case.
  • Auto de fe: An all-day ceremony would publicly announce the sentences for heresy, with victims frequently dressed in “sambenitos.” The condemned who were sentenced to death on a pyre were burned at a special site called the Quemadero.
The stables, with space for five mules

The stories of two prominent inquisitors, Diego Rodriguez Lucero of Cordoba and Fernando de Valdes, were explained in some lighted panels. The former seemingly was heavily motivated by the wealth of his targets. His trumped-up charges were exposed when previously Jewish Christian converts testified that they had been required to teach the targets of the Inquisition Jewish prayers so that their “students” could be convicted! Even so, Lucero burned to death more than one hundred people in 1500 A.D. and again in 1504.

Fernando de Valdes

Valdes, on the other hand, was known as a stubborn, prickly noble even before he was named to the Inquisition. His behavior as an Inquisitor was such that his peers sometimes forced his recusal from the trials. He created an Index of banned books in 1559 and then wrote a book of his own that reorganized and reformed the process of the Inquisition.

I was glad to see that the museum could end on a more uplifting note. A display on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights helped to remind us of the real progress civilzation has made since the times of the Inquisition.

After the heavy content of the museum, Natasha and I wandered in the market at Triana. It was lovely to see so many people laughing over delicious-looking displays of cheese and sausage in a place that previous been home to horror. We both had sore feet, so we began our walk back to the hotel through the neighborhoods west of the Guadalquivir.

Real Parroquia de Señora Santa Ana

I stopped for a moment in the plaza next to Real Parroquia de Señora Santa Ana. The museum mentioned that the plaza had sometimes been used for the auto da fe ceremonies. Today’s Plaza Santa Ana is filled with tables and chairs from the cafes that line the square. The tower and facade are very pretty, with lively blues and reds accenting each. How could such a lovely place also have been home to such painful humiliations?

Torre del Oro

When we recrossed the river at Puente de San Telmo, the afternoon sun made everything seem a bit brighter. We marveled at the excellent view of the Tower of Gold (completed in 1220 A.D.), now serving as the Spanish Maritime Museum. A few more yards north brought us to a large fountain at the corner of the elegant Alfonso XII hotel.


This parade once held the “burning place” of the Inquisition.

In one of my last acts at the city of Sevilla, I took a walk to the Prado de San Sebastian, quite close to our hotel. This parade was home to the Quemadero, a platform with four statues at which many victims of the Inquisition were burned to death. It was originally constructed in 1481, and it remained in place until 1809. Today the Prado San Sebastian is a beautiful park, with rides for children. I paused for a moment in memory of the people who met terrifying deaths there.

According the best authorities, from 1481 to 1808, the Holy Tribunal of Spain burnt 34,612 persons alive, 18,048 in effigy, and imprisoned 288,109, the goods and chattels of every one them being first duly confiscated.

A tour with Cook through Spain, a series of letters, by Sir John Benjamin Stone