Paris - Notre Dame Des Victories SacreCoeur-Montmarte
Tuesday, 5th February 2008
Paris, France 8.45 p.m, cold and windy.
Sitting at a Starbucks getting a sugar-high from the leftover
Raspberry macaroon that I began eating for breakfast.
Got myself a decaf vanilla latte and I’m just sitting here
at the table, looking out the window, watching the world
There’s a lot to recount, so perhaps it’s better to just
start from today and work backwards.
We went to the Notre-Dame Des Victoires church today
at 12 p.m to catch the Benedictines singing the noontime
liturgy of the hours.
[oohh…just bit into a rose-flavoured macaroon. It is so good.
I can really taste the rose flavour. I guess a macaroon is like
a biscuit, with a slight cake texture inside]
The nuns sang the liturgy of the hours so sweetly, dressed
in their black habits and white robes, they resembled the
picture of St. Therese dressed in her nun habit. One the
the nuns played a dulcimer ever so sweetly and another
taught the congregation how to sing the refrain of the
opening song and she also cantored and led in the singing.
She sang very well. Her alto voice was pure and delicate.
According to the pamphlet I’d seen in the pew, they were
singing Ps 87, and even though I didn’t understand a word,
it was moving to hear the spirit behind their singing and the
beautiful melodies floating like sweet incense in the basilique.
Mass soon began with the nuns voices blending in harmony
during the entrance hymn. The priest, an African man walked
in slowly, dressed in a red vestment. ( I believe he mentioned
something about it being St. Agatha’s feastday that day.)
I wish I had read the readings for the day beforehand because
both Kavin and I didn’t understand a word, until we got to
the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
After mass, I walked around the church. I was delightful
to be in the same church that St. Therese had visited on her
trip to Paris; the very church, with the statue of Mary and
the child Jesus, the one where she said that Mary had
smiled at her. There were many marble plaques on the walls
surround the statue, giving testimony to the number of people
who were grateful to Mary for her intercession.
I thought the statue of Mary and the child Jesus was beautiful,
although where St. Therese had seen Our Lady smile, I could
only see a very serious expression on Our Lady’s face. The
crown on her head was exquisite, as was the one on the child Jesus.
The most moving part for me during mass, was when the priest
was walking slowly back towards the tabernacle after communion
to place the Lord’s body back in the tabernacle,
and the organ was playing a reflectively deep, yearning,
tranquil piece of music that was almost modal, and the slow
steps of the priest spoke to me of our common humanity,
and of the many steps we would take in journeying back to
the Lord, so as to meet Him face to face one day.
I also saw the statue of St. Joseph, the one that St. Therese
had stood in front of so many years ago and said a prayer to St. Joseph.
It was also beautiful to see the statue of St. Therese herself,
surrounded by marble plaques given by people who
had had their prayer intentions fulfilled through her intercessions
and were grateful to the saint for her help.
There was a stained glass above the statue, depicting
the day when St. Therese and her father had visited that
same basilique and stood praying in front of the same
statues, in the same place as I stood. How humbling,
how awe-inspiring to be where the saint once was,
to see the same church, to pray in front of the same
Afterwards, Kavin and I made our way to Montmarte,
taking the funiculaire up to the Sacre-Couer church.
It was drizzly and cold and windy. We made out way
into the church and there, up high in a monstrance
upon the altar was the Lord, flanked by 6 lit candles.
I guess the Blessed Sacrament is being perpetually
adored at Sacre-Couer, which is perfect, because
it’s His heart, Him that we adore, His Sacre-Couer,
ie. Sacred Heart. I finished saying my rosary for
the sorrowful mysteries there and it was good to be
in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament with
Kavin beside me.
We walked around Sacre-Couer after this.
There was a lovely statue of Our Lady and the child
Jesus that I loved. She had such a sweet expression of
perpetual love, care and adoration towards the child
Jesus that she held in her arms and above the statue
was a stained glass window, portraying Mary holding
the dead body of Jesus after his crucifixion. I found
the altar, the stained glass and her beautiful face very moving.
Later on, we went down to the crypt. The guy in charge,
Daniel, told us about the St. Vincent De Paul church and also
where to find the heart buried from one of the Alexandra
brothers who had built the Sacre-Couer.
After this, we headed to the Salvador Dali museum.
I loved his drawings, especially the biblical ones,
my favourite was the one with the Sacre-Couer,
in the middle of 2 faces, and I also liked the one with
the rat charmer, the culinary vane, and another drawing
that featured a lady atop a piano.
The Rat Charmer
The Culinary Vane
So much of art is inspired by sacred tradition and the
representations of Christ, Mary and the saints. Work
of our hands, best of our hands, given to Him, for He
gave us artists, the gift of art, of music, of expression,
and in turn, artists throughout the history of mankind have yearned
to express the beauty of Him who is Alpha and Omega,
and His mother, who through her ‘yes’, gave Him to us.