December 6th, 2002
Today Maurice and I went with friends to Notre Dame to the Veneration of the Crown of Thorns. This is supposedly the crown of thorns worn by Christ found 4 or 5 centuries later by Templars in the East during the crusades. It was originally kept at St Chapelle which was built just for this purpose but after the revolution it was kept at Notre Dame. It was once only shown once a year on Good Friday, but now they show it the first Friday of every month. There was a mass and at the end you could go up front and kiss it, if you wished. I went up front but didn't, just got a good look. It is in a very ornate ring, part of which is transparent and you can see the crown inside. They also had a sliver of wood from the original cross.
Here is the crown on a pillow being held by the priest
Christmas Eve day Maurice and I walked around Paris to look at the lights. They are very lavish on the department stores and every tree lining Champs Elysees is covered with strings of white lights. It look really fabulous to go to the end at Place Concorde and look up towards the Arch de Triumph and see them lined up.
The outsides of shops are all decorated for Christmas
We decided to go to Christmas Eve mass at a small church down the street from us on Rue du Rendezvous where we often go to shop. The first 30 minutes was a choir singing to the left of the audience with their backs to us dressed in regular street clothes. Sometimes the audience joined in. I didn't know most of the songs except for Silent Night. The words are different as even I can tell. Instead of:
Silent night, Holy night All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin, mother and child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace
Douce nuit, sainte niut, Dans les cieux, lástre luit
Le mystère announcé s'accomplit
Cet enfant sur la paille endormi,
C'est l'amour infini, C'est l'amour infini
which is kind of-gentle night, holy night, in the sky the star is lit. The mystery announced is accomplished, the infant on the straw is asleep. The love is infinite. Not the same at all, but then it was originally written in German, I believe, and our version may be different, too.
After the music, which also included some great organ playing, a procession came down the aisle-a young boy swinging the incense container, 2 boys carrying huge candles, some priests, and then the main priest carrying a small ceramic Jesus, which he placed in the creche. The rest of the service, being in French, seemed long to me, but it was nice. We didn't get into bed until 2 in the morning.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!
Yesterday I was with some people at Notre Dame. When we went in to look around it was raining. When we came out, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. It was a miracle! It seems like ages since I have seen the sky. It is cloudy a lot here in Paris in the winter.
View of Sacre Cour from the Notre Dame Tower
Famous monkey gargoyle looking at the view
A boat headed down the Seine-water looking muddy from recent storms
There was a great sunset that day, too.