Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Lost for Words

We headed off early this morning to fit in as much as possible.  There were a number of things on the list to do.  We headed out first to Montmajour Abbey near Arles.  It was quite amazing and felt like we had stepped back in time as we wandered the ruins of the Abbey.  This place features in a number of Van Gogh’s paintings and it is not hard to figure out why with the magnificence of the towers and the imposing presence that it has over the valleys.  There are parapets around the towers for the guards to keep watch and danger can be seen from miles and miles away.  Tombs are literally carved in the rocks.  In many ways it looked like a scene out of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  It certainly showed that this life was not for the faint of heart.  Montmajour Abbey is hard to describe except to say that it is all stone with wrought iron gates at the entrances.  

 this is the main body of the church with the pedestal of the altar reamining

One of 2 tombs in the church.  Ciborium and Crozier were found buried here.  They are now on display at the Louvre

The fields in the Valley below

The Abbey Ruins

St. Peter's Church outside the Abbey walls for the lay people


The Tower, there are 155 steps to the top  

            A View of the top and where a watch of the area below could be kept

A Tomb

Burial Sites

The Tower

From there we travelled to Arles.  It was busy!  Obviously a tourist hot spot as well as an UNESCO world heritage site.  After a quick lunch we wandered around to see the sites.  We managed to see a number but the crowds and vendors made it less than appealing and we did not stay around for long, well only 90 minutes.

the entrance into the town square

the square

 the fountain

The Cathedral

Detailing above the door

What looks like people on either side of the doors

the Arena

the antique Theatre

Some of the people sitting in the shade.  Sidewalk View

Our next stop today was another Abbey, St. Michael of Frigolet (St. Michael and All Angels).  The tourist office in Pernes had told us that this was really one we should see.  The drive up was not at all harrowing.  There was lots of parking available but it seemed like everyone was looking for a shady tree.  The walk into the Abbey reminded you of heading into a compound and it was so large we thought that it was a secular community.  However, that is not the case.  Our first stop was the chapel of St. Peter.  It was lovely and relatively quiet.  We enjoyed some time here as well as the beauty of the place.  As we continued on we came to another church and entering in we were awestruck.  It is breathtaking!  Every inch is artwork, the ceiling decorated with stars, every column has a Disciple or Saint painted on it.  There are three parallel places of worship with the center being the largest.  A small group of local people were at worship and the acoustics were phenomenal.  The Nunc Dimitis in French is just as familiar and haunting when the canting starts as it is in English.  It was a great way to end the day of site seeing.  

St. Peter's Chapel

St. Michael's and All Angels Basilica

The Center Aisle

A Small group at worship

Again the Center Aisle

The Spires above the trees

A side garden

At the top of the path is this statue of Mary.  It is at the entrance to picnic area and large field

Our journeys here have taken us to many different places of worship.  Most have been simple and plain with little to no ornamentation but today there was a splendor that cannot be described and when the singing and praying started it just gave one chills to be a part of it.  Despite the magnificence of this building the prayers were heartfelt, as people knelt before the altar on the stone floor to offer themselves and their petitions to God.  The singing rang clear and true in further prayer.  Despite the ornateness of this Basilica today the prayers were no different in the sincerity with which they were offered than any other place that we have journeyed.  True worshipers gathered to bring their prayers and all they had to offer to God.

Finishing up the tour of the grounds we discovered a play area with picnic tables and lots of room for children and pets to roam safely.  And right in the middle of it all a very large cross, perhaps as a reminder of who we are and whose we are.

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