28 April 2008


The weather was glorious, and so, after Mass, we decided to head back into town for a day’s worth of meandering. After a kebab-frites (shared with the pigeons), the Mr. and Mrs. sat down for a grand café and thé au lait, respectively, on the Place de la Liberté, while the children ran through the fountains on the square.

Marie & Michael gamboling in the water. The Palais des Ducs, seat of the Dukes of Burgundy, is in the background

Afterwards, we visited the old Bernardine monastery. The first order of Cistercian nuns was founded in Tart in 1125, then transferred to Dijon in 1623. The monastery was completed in 1709, enjoying several decades of peace and stability until the Revolution swept through and, as with so many other sacred places, was overtaken, the nuns chased out of town. Today the cloister houses the Museum of Burgundian life, while the chapel houses the Museum of Sacred Art.

Mom and children heading into the museum…

The High Altar of the Cistercian chapel, with a depiction of the Visitation.

Interior view of the rotunda

Le Petit Roi de Grâce. The original is housed in the Carmel of Beaune, a nearby city south of Dijon. It is associated with Ven. Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament, who was shown a vision of the Infant Jesus and taught to say a chaplet in His honor.

Relics Galore!

St. Bernard of Clairvaux was born in Dijon in 1091, and went on to found seventy-two Cistercian monasteries in France during his lifetime. In 2004, this nineteenth century reliquary was processed from the museum to St. Bernard’s birthplace several kilometers away on the 850th anniversary of his death. Unfortunately, instead of remaining there in the basilica built in his honor, it had to be returned to the museum, along with the other sacred items plundered by the government.

Close-up of the reliquary and St. Bernard’s rib.

Bones of St. Bénigne, patron saint of Dijon (scroll down to see the ancient crypt and sarcophagus in which he was buried), of St. Vincent Martyr, and of St. Médard, Bishop of Noyon.

Skullcaps of St. Bartholomew, St. Lucy, St. Victor, and two of the 11,000 virgins

Michael gets past the rope and climbs up the old pulpit. An indication of his future vocation perhaps?

A side room housing, among other things, two glass cases lined with row on row of sacred vessels.

Ciboria, chalices, and patens that once held the Sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord, looted by Jacobins during the Revolution and now sitting behind sterile glass panels rather than in tabernacles and on altars, where they belong.

Anterior view of St. Bénigne Cathedral (our parish), built in the 13th century above the resting place of the saint and martyr.

Descending into the Crypt…

It was about 20 degrees colder down here. To the right is a side altar with an image of the San Damiano crucifix; I'm midway through bowing before it...

Marie lets us know where she is…

The rotunda, where the priests sometimes say their Divine Office.

Sarcophagus of St. Bénigne

This stone is the last remains of the sarcophagus where the body of St. Bénigne rested for centuries—priest, apostle of the country, martyred around the year 200 according to ancient tradition.

Shelter of the Sepulcher of St. Bénigne and of numerous tombs long ago arranged around it, this crypte was, in past centuries, a celebrated center of pilgrimage. Here the Dijonnais and all of Christendom venerated with devotion the relics of the priest-martyr, apostle of the country, and those of St. Jacques, bishop of Toulouse, St. Eustade, first Abbot of the monastery, St. Paschasie, Virgin of Dijon. Here popular homage piously surrounded the tombs of the holy married couple Hilaire and Quiète, the virgine Floride, the holy Fathers Isaac, Argrimus, Garnier the First, bishop of Langres, a saint carrying the name of Radegonde, the Venerable Alette, mother of St. Bernard. On this soil permeated with the virtue of ashes so long kept, flocked by the believing masses for a thousand years and more, the Christian is touched, kneels, and prays.

A kneeler is directly below the plaque for those wishing to pray to the saint of Dijon and the others here honored.

We afterwards planned to take the bus up to Fontaine-les-Dijon, birthplace of St. Bernard, whose once-rundown basilica has been beautifully restored by the FSSP, and where Mass in the extraordinary form is held each week. The children were getting rather tired, though, so we returned home instead for a bit of rest... Perhaps next Sunday!