31 October 2007

God in the Streets of New York City

You'll be inspired.

(via Canterbury Tales)

Abbaye Saint-Joseph de Clairval

The Abbey and surrounding village

About sixty kilometers north of Dijon city center sits the Benedictine Abbey of St. Joseph of Clairval in Flavigny. It is a traditional community celebrating Mass according to the 1962 rite. The monastery was founded in 1976, although the village had had a Benedictine Abbey since the 7th century, up until it was closed during the Revolution.

Sint Unum: Coat of Arms of the Founding Abbot

In 1700, the Marquis de Souhey built a chateau in Flavigny, with extensive grounds and a terraced garden. After his death, the home went to various owners, until 1829, when it was bought by Ursulines, who added various wings to the chateau. in 1906, France issued a decree of expulsion, driving out all religious orders. It afterwards became the seat of the minor diocesan seminary. It was during World War II that the last of the construction was completed. The current community moved in in 1976, and proceeded to renovate the grounds, including the conventual church, finished and solemnly blessed in 1979.

The community received canonical recognition as a Benedictine monastery of diocesan right in 1988. The monastery was raised to the rank of abbey in 1992 at the request of the Holy See. The current community numbers around fifty members.

Inner Courtyard

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Parlor Courtyard

Inner Courtyard in Snow

Entry to the Sanctuary, with St. Joseph standing sentinel

The Sanctuary

The Altar

Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux!

Twelfth Station of the Via Dolorosa

Close-up of Stall

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

St. Joseph Oratory

Staircase to the Tribune

St. Angela Chapel

St. Augustine, in the St. Angela Chapel

The Virgin's Garden

Eighteenth Century Terraces and Vegetable Garden

St. Gabriel

The Hedge at Dawn

Hedge Cross in Winter

29 October 2007

I found an old article about my parish that is most encouraging reading concerning the positive effects of the Traditional Latin Mass. Fr. Zuhlsdorf comments on it here.

Quotation of the Day

Indeed, the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries, nor innovators: they are traditionalists.
--Pope St. Pius X


Online Tutorial for priests on the Traditional Latin Mass

With the Motu Proprio, this online resource will come in handy for all diocesan priests who wish to learn how to celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. It includes sample liturgies with videos, and audio recordings of the Latin text, with tutorials on how to say Low Mass, Requiem Masses, and the Missae Cantata, Solemnis, and Pontificalis. Tutorials are also included, with videos, on sacred music. (The rubrics are translated by Fr. Dennis Duvelius, the priest who baptized my children.)

28 October 2007

Musée d'Art Sacrée

The other week my daughter and I made a trip to the Museum of Sacred Art. Frankly, it should be renamed The Museum of Illegally Confiscated Church Property.

Originally a Cistercian convent for nuns, it was transferred from the city of Tart to Dijon in 1623 as the very first female Cistercian order (founded in 1125). The convent was completed in 1708, and the nuns enjoyed approximately 90 years of order and tranquility, until the Jacobins arrived.

In the summer of 1792, 270 priests who had refused to take the oath to the constitution were arrested in Dijon and deported. (Considering that Dijon is not a terribly large city, it's remarkable there were so many priests here.) Monasteries were overtaken and religious run out of town. (According to its website, "A la Révolution, les Bernardines furent chassées.") The Cistercian convent was turned into a garrison house. All the sacred articles were confiscated. Such articles can be seen two centuries later today in the Museum of Sacred Art.

I found the convent by its green cupola and gold cross, which rises high above the surrounding buildings. One walks through the cloister to find the Museum entrance.

There are actually two museums in the monastery; the other is the Museum of Burgundian Life, which occupies the cloister, complete with cheesy wax figures depicted in everyday settings from the 18th and 19th centuries, like the scene below. To think that the hallowed halls where once Christ's consecrated lived, worked, prayed, and offered sacrifices in reparation for the sins of the world is now taken up with rakish dummies idly standing about is too much.
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The sanctuary beneath the round cupola holds the holy articles: venerated statues, images, liturgical vestments, relics, and, most unfortunately, golden ciboria, chalices, and patens that once held the Sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord, now standing row upon row in sterile glass cases to be gawked at as if they were decorative ornaments. The sense of wonder and reverence I felt as I walked through the museum was tinged with not a small amount of irritation at this illegal plunder by the French government—plunder that really ought to be returned to its rightful owner, the Church.

The sanctuary

The skulls of St. Bartholomew, St. Victor, two of the 11,000 virgins murdered with St. Ursula by the Huns, and St. Lucy (particularly special, because her feast day coincides with the birth of my daughter)

Bust and relics of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, born in Dijon in 1090

Eighteenth-century scapular (If one looks closely, my reflection can be seen)

Reliquary of early Roman martyrs (apologies for the blurriness; flash was not allowed, and my camera doesn’t focus well without it)

No, that is not a headless priest standing before one of the many ornate altars, but a display of vestments. Marie grins in front.

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"In this chapel were assembled the bodies of the victims of the bombings and war for the liberation of Dijon in 1944, and the bodies of soldiers who died for France in Indochina in 1954 and in Algeria in 1962."

At times, one is struck by the feeling that all is foreordained. As we left the museum and wandered down rue Sainte Anne, not quite certain where we were and in which direction we were headed, I suddenly came upon this:


I had seen the image of this building many a time before, but here it was, its baroque façade looming gloriously before me, and entirely by chance. It was none other than the first chapel of the Carmelites of Dijon, erected in the 1600s and destroyed, once again, by the Jacobins during the Revolution. Only the façade remains; the rest of the building, reconstructed in modern style, houses the city administration. The scale of the building can be measured against my two-year-old, the little pink speck sitting on the steps.

27 October 2007

La Pucelle

Joan of Arc miniature, ~1450-1500, author unknown

Dijon has the unfortunate fate of being home to the man responsible for turning St. Joan of Arc over to the English to burn at the stake.

It is said that in 1519, a Carthusian monk showed an acquaintance the fractured skull of John the Fearless, the murdered duke of Burgundy, and remarked, “This is the hole through which the English entered France.”

He was referring to the third phase of the Hundred Years War of a century earlier, during which Henry V captured and occupied Paris and all of northern France (begun, of course, by the Battle of Agincourt, the king’s speech romanticized and immortalized by Shakespeare:

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

It was through the help of Philip the Good, considered one of “the four great dukes of Burgundy”, and resident of Dijon, that England was able to secure victory over Paris and all of northern France. (Why Phillip is considered good or great is beyond me.) John the Fearless had been his father. The Armagnacs, the royal family that ruled northern France, had murdered John as revenge for his murder of Louis of Orleans. Philip, in turn, avenged his father’s death by allying himself with the English and helping them obtain victory over France.

(The rest can be read at Patum Peperium.)

26 October 2007

Afternoon Digression

The children and I often go for a stroll through the local park (not to be confused with 17th-century Parc Colombière a mile north, whose beautiful boulevard was described by Louis XIV as "la plus belle allée de mon royaume."). This one is rather small and simple, bordered by the L'Ouche on one side and the Canal de Bourgogne, often flocked with ducks, on the other. In the middle sits the Town Hall, and a gravel path winds through the woods toward Dijon.

The park from the bridge

The bridge from the park

Town Hall, which sits in the center of the park.

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Feeding the ducks

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Over the rise of grass flows the Canal de Bourgogne, and beyond, hidden behind trees, is the spire of Eglise St. Pierre.

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Noticeably thinned out foliage in this photo taken in late October

23 October 2007

Notre-Dame de Bon-Espoir

One of the oldest statues of the Virgin Mary in all of France rests on an altar in Eglise Notre Dame in Dijon. The wooden statue was carved and installed on the altar in the twelfth century. More primitive than beautiful, she is honored as Our Lady of Good Hope, and at least two miracles have been attributed to her intercession, the first occurring on September 11, 1513, the second on the same date in 1944.

In the Fall of 1513, the Swiss had laid siege against the city. On several priests’ initiative, Our Lady of Good Hope was carried on September 11th in a solemn procession through the streets around Notre Dame and petitions offered up for help. Two days later, the Swiss lifted the siege and retreated. Each year afterwards on the same day, a procession was held in her honor, and in 1515, a tapestry was commissioned to celebrate the miraculous deliverance wrought through her care. The tapestry, recently redone, is striking, with a deep red background, Our Lady standing in gigantic posture astride the city walls, the tiny citizens huddling about her gown, and the word TERRIBILIS above it all.

After the statue was torn down and carried off by Jacobins during the French Revolution, the Infant Jesus knocked from her knees and never recovered, Our Lady of Good Hope was found by a Dijonnais and kept safe in a private home. She was brought back to her altar in 1803.

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The interior of Notre Dame

Fast forward to the twentieth century, and we find Dijon overrun by the Germans on June 17, 1940. The next day, General de Gaulle made his famed public appeal refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Vichy regime, and Churchill roused a daunted England to

so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

It would not be until September 1944, after a successful Allied invasion in Southern France, that German troops began to withdraw towards Dijon to wait for reinforcements from the North. With greater numbers, the Germans seemed successful in resisting American forces, weakened from lack of supplies.

On September 10, the bishop of Dijon, along with its citizens, gathered within Notre Dame Church to plead for help from Our Lady of Good Hope. The very next day—the anniversary of the solemn procession of 1514—French armored divisions linked up with General Patton’s army moving eastward, and the extra reserves overwhelmed the German forces. French soldiers entered the city without a fight. Dijon was free.

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A wall of stone plaques in thanksgiving for prayers answered through the intercession of Notre-Dame de Bon-Espoir.

Today, Our Lady of Good Hope can be seen adorned in richly embroidered robes in the chapel to the right of the High Altar at Eglise Notre Dame. A low iron grating separates the chapel, and the altar overflows with baskets of flowers, left by the faithful grateful for her continuing succor.

O Vierge sainte,
ô Mère compatissante,
vous avez protégé nos anciens chevaliers, vous avez délivré cette ville des attaques de l'ennemi, vous avez secouru nos pères au milieu de leurs épreuves. Vous exaucez toujours les prières de ceux qui viennent à vous en gémissant. Voyez les peines qui nous affligent et les maux qui nous accablent; ne nous abondonnez pas, jetez sur nous un regard de miséricorde.
Nous venons à vous aujourd'hui en toute confiance, parce que vous êtes Notre-Dame de Bon-Espoir. Réalisez pour nous la promesse que renferme votre beau nom, et nous continuerons toujours de vous servir et de vous aimer. Amen.

Notre-Dame de Bon-Espoir, priez pour nous!

16 October 2007

Blessed Alan (de la Roche) says that a nun who had always had great devotion to the Holy Rosary appeared after death to one of her sisters in religion and said to her: "If I were allowed to go back into my body, to have the chance of saying just one single Hail Mary--even if I said it quickly and without much fervor--I would gladly go through the sufferings of my last illness all over again, in order to gain the merit of this prayer." (Blessed Alan de la Roche, De Dignitate Psalterii, Chapter LXIX) This is all the more compelling because she had been bedridden and had suffered agonizing pains for several years before she died.
--St. Louis de Montfort, The Secret of the Rosary, pp. 49-50

October is the month of the Holy Rosary.

15 October 2007

The Churches of Dijon

The towers of Notre Dame

Dijon is blessed to have a number of churches (many of them magnificent), and, considering the shortage of priests in Europe, the diocese is surprisingly full of them.

Eglise St. Michel stands in the middle of a square, and on its left is the medieval cemetery where it had its humble beginnings (as a funeral chapel).

St. Benignus was venerated as a martyr in the third century. A basilica was erected over his tomb in his honor, and a larger structure built in 1272 and completed several decades later. It is the current cathedral of Dijon, Eglise St. Bénigne. St. Benignus's sarcophagus can be seen in the crypt beneath the church, one of the oldest crypts in all of Christendom.

At the cathedral, confessions are heard daily, with twice daily Masses. The recently installed head pastor is striking for his reverence (he also happens to be a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre) and the associate pastor is my very kind and able confessor.

The interior of St. Bénigne (taken after Sunday Mass)

Stunning crucifix. You get an idea of its scale by the woman standing beneath.

The baptistry (the image doesn’t quite capture its size or beauty).

There are a number of other churches I plan on visiting (for instance, the Basilica of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who was born in Dijon). Photos are forthcoming.