Friday: go to church
Friday dawned, gloomy and rainy. I was fighting a migraine, worrying about personal issues, attempting to clean the house, and dreading another trip to the grocery store, which was necessary. Called Dr. B, and he said, "we'll go out for dinner, and go to a movie tonight. Do something you want to do today. Skip the grocery store."
After a combination of 3 medications to pacify the migraine, I set off for Notre Dame de Paris. I have been wanting to go in, to look at the vitraux (stained glass windows), to enjoy the incredible high gothic architecture, and just to see how it differs from other cathedrals I've visited, in Metz (France) and Köln (Cologne, Germany.) I studied art and architecture in high school, and was quite fascinated by the whole Gothic period. I still have to visit Chartres, about an hour from Paris, which I wrote a 25-page research paper on for my HS AP European History class. But, just a few metro stops away is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, so I hopped on Line 7, heading for Chatelet, and went to visit the church that has gone through so much in history.
As I walked in the door, I was fascinated by the beautiful metal on wood design of the massive structure. I entered, and walked through the church, taking a few minutes to look at each window, the paintings, the plaques, the stations of the cross. I didn't have as much time as I would have liked, but it still filled me with a sense of peace. After lighting a candle, and praying for loved ones (I figure, though I am not Catholic, God will listen anyway), I returned to the Acceuil desk. I had to wait a few minutes for the person to return, but when she did, I got tickets for a Concert de Noël there next Tuesday. The concert is free, but you need a ticket to hold your place. The concert will include music of Bach and some of his predecessors, Buxtehude, Schütz, and Praetorius, performed by the Maîtrise Notre-Dame de Paris, the children's choir, Youth Ensemble, and adult choir, under the direction of Nicole Corti, Sylvain Dieudonné, and Lionel Sow.
I tried to take photos inside, but it was very dark, and many didn't turn out. This is one of the famous Rose Windows, which are dedicated to the Virgin Mary. I believe this is a photo of the South Rose Window. (You can find better photos at the link above. I'd like to return on a sunnier day with my non-digital camera--then I can use manual settings and get some good shots.) The interior walls are smoky gray and black from pollution and all of the candles and incense that have been burned over the centuries. It appears that some restoration has taken place, though, as certain chapels shine with bright colors and gold leaf.
The exterior has gone through a massive restoration recently, and the formerly grey and black spires of the front of the church shine warmly, revealing their true colors. (They are still working on the sides and back.) It is quite astonishing to visit this place, knowing it was begun in 1163, and entirely built by hand. Truly a work of art, and an amazing testament to the wonderful things people can do when they work together.