Saturday, March 24, 2012

another day in paris!


After a quick hour of teaching this morning, I hopped into Paris yet again. This time, to meet up with more American friends for an afternoon of catching up, strolling in the sun (with sandals on!), prayer, and venerating the Crown of Thorns.

Paris is bursting at the seams with people! There are tourists galore and Parisians out of hibernation and the city it just buzzing with life. Today was so perfect; it made me so happy to see everyone out and about--a stark contrast to the sleepy winter.

flocks on the steps of la Madeleine

the fountains are on!

crowds at the Louvre

the Seine :)

I took the train in and walked from the station to Notre Dame. Every Friday during Lent, there is veneration of the Crown of Thorns, which Jesus was crowned with before His Crucifixion by the mocking soldiers. One of the instruments of the Passion, the Crown of Thorns was offered to France in the 13th century, after having been brought back from the Holy Land by Saint Helena centuries earlier. Sainte-Chapelle, a beautiful church only a few hundred yards from Notre Dame, was built specifically to house the crown and it remained there until the French Revolution. It fell into the hands of the government for a few years, but was eventually returned to the Church and has been in Notre Dame ever since. The Crown of Thorns is kept under high security in the treasures of the Cathedral and is a very important relic of the Passion.

veneration of the crown of thorns

There was a beautiful service for veneration. It began with a procession of the crown from the treasures around the church and up the center aisle. After a brief Gospel reading and homily, we filed row by row to venerate the crown by kissing it or reverencing it. The crown itself is protected by a gold and glass case around it, and it is kept in a giant gold reliquary.

That was certainly the highlight of my afternoon, if not my entire Lent so far. It was a very moving, powerful experience to be able to reverence this crown that Christ wore, and suffered with. He died on the Cross with this Crown of Thorns. I cannot express what it felt like to be able to pray before it, reflect on what it means. I was so blessed for that opportunity.

The rest of the day was spent meandering Paris and basking in the sun and heat. It was just wonderful! I do not want to think about leaving Paris any time soon...

pax christi.

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