Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Notre Dame shimmers at Christmas

As promised, here are a few photos of Notre Dame just after Christmas
near New Years Day. 

After weeks of walking by crazy long lines,
people waiting in the freezing cold,
we finally found an opening with no line
and managed to walk right in during a New Year's service. 

For those too far away, 
there are even video screens to see the priest
whose voice rumbles throughout the ancient cathedral. 

Everywhere there is light pouring in...

... and candles flickering. 

But the sweetest part of Notre Dame during the holidays...

was the shimmering star hanging over the altar.

It twinkled with sparkly lights
as a reminder of that night. 

And all throughout are reminders and depictions of His life.

The beauty of this extraordinary place is awe-inspiring on a regular day
but breathtaking during the holidays. 

It seems funny to be posting Christmas in Paris in April
but then I realized that maybe the week between 
Palm Sunday and Easter is the perfect time. 

(All photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Spring and Super Bloom

I'm on my way shortly to San Francisco and Marin 
for my birthday weekend with my sister! 
She and I share the same birthday week
where for that one week, we are the same age. 
She has one day left! 

Hoping to get some photos 
of some of California's Super Bloom
going on now after their crazy winter of rain. 

So I'll have to return soon to share the promised pics 
of the interior of Notre Dame at Christmas. 
Until then, just wanted to say 
Happy Spring!

(And right at this moment,
the sun is out for maybe the 3rd time this year.
Hope you're getting some wherever you are.)

(Photo Copyright: Kirsten Steen)
(Marin 2009)

Monday, March 6, 2017

St. Severin church in Paris

Right around the corner from Notre Dame and St. Julien le Pauvre
stands St. Severin church,
actually within view from St. Julien's entry door.
I thought this shot looked perfect for Easter
coming right up. 

While I was there it was dressed up for the Christmas holiday
complete with Nativity scene
(I love the little angel in the alcove overlooking the scene)...

... and surrounded by a paper sea of baby angels 
made by children. 

How much sweeter could it get?

This little angel particularly stood out. 

Such magnificent vaulted Gothic ceilings.

The church of St. Severin sits in the Latin Quarter
not far from the University so is just near streets and streets of 
restaurants and sweet shops and filled with gaggles of young people.

St. Severin was named either after a hermit who lived along the Seine
in the 5th century, replacing the oratory built over his tomb...
or after Saint Severin, a preacher also of the 5th century. 

The first small church over the hermit's tomb
was replaced to accommodate its growing parish
and was rebuilt again in the 14th century.
Damaged by fire during the Hundred Years War,
it was rebuilt again, finished in 1520
but added onto throughout the centuries. 

While there are many, 
one of the unique features of this church
are the fanning columns in the double ambulatory
that appear almost like a forest of trees,
particularly the center one with its beautifully-carved twisted trunk. 

The Black Heart is a remembrance to a mother and daughter,
Catherine de Brinon and Catherine de Canteleu,
whose family contributed to the church since 1491.
They died in 1699. 

The church is also said to house the relics of the patron saint of the Sorbonne University,
St. Ursule (apparently just one of many churches across Europe to house parts of her relics.)
While it is said that the legend of St. Ursule (or Ursula) could fill 100 pages,
there seem to be a thousand versions. 
But the basic idea is that instead or marrying a Pagan prince,
this 3rd century daughter of a Christian king 
(ruler of Cornwall according to Geoffrey of Monmouth)
fled on pilgrimage to Rome instead, her virginal maidens in tow.
Later, enroute to Cologne, they were all captured by Huns and killed. 
It's believed by some that the Church of St. Ursula in Cologne 
is built over the spot where the holy virgins died. 

Now after reading more about it,
 I just want to go back and take more pictures.
So much more to see and learn. 

Next time, we'll have a short tour of the interior
of the lovely and grand Notre Dame
dressed for the holidays. 

Happy March. It's been snowing here.
I hope the Crocosmia spring bulbs I planted a couple of weeks ago
will still come up. 
Spring forward is almost here. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)
Info via Wiki

Monday, February 20, 2017

St. Julien le Pauvre surrounds

Just near Notre Dame...

After crossing the river...

You come to the Square René-Viviani,
the perfect place for an unobstructed view of the grand Notre Dame,
and which also houses The Oldest Planted Tree in Paris
(which you can see Here along with its story.)

This square sits just outside the St. Julien le Pauvre church
and is named after France's first Minister of Labour. 
Its location was once the site of ancient burial grounds
and for a time, served as an annex to the Hotel Dieu,
Paris' oldest hospital originally founded in 651.

As mentioned in my last post on St. Julien le Pauvre
the second oldest church in Paris,
it became the home for the Greek Melchite Catholic Community in 1889.
The inscription below from the Third French Republic
tells of its history.

There's something about being down here in the
 heart of the earliest settlement of Paris that makes me feel 
like I've finally arrived.

I can spend days in my own neighborhood
or wandering other arrondissements
but it isn't until I get down here 
to the very oldest part of Paris
that I let out a sigh and think,
"Ah... now I'm finally here!"

This shot is just outside the church and includes a view 
of the church of St. Severin. 

And these two beauties are a couple of my favorites in all of Paris. 
I think I photograph them each time I come down here. 
(Odette is a special patisserie shop
offering sweets in the style the owner's grandmother used to make.
It sells Petites Choux, or "little cabbages"
in the flavors of chocolate, caramel, pistache, café, fruits des bois,
 thé vert, praline, citron and vanille.)

And just across Rue St. Julien le Pauvre
sits this little traditional French restaurant
that looked too sweet not to photograph. 

According to a History of St. Julien le Pauvre,
the original basilica,
known as St. Julien the Martyr
(named for a soldier martyred in the Auvergne area in the 3rd century)
was destroyed by Normans sometime before the 9th century. 

In the 12th century, 
it was ceded to the Abbey of Longpont
who, with his group of monks,
rebuilt in Gothic style. 

It was also close to the University of Paris
and was used as a lecture hall.
It's even said that Danté attended lectures and prayed at St. Julien
and mentions one of the surrounding streets in his Paradiso,

The cage outside the church doors,
all dressed up for Christmas,
holds a stone well once housed inside the church.
In Medieval times, the church was known 
for the magical, healing properties of its well
which the monks charged pilgrims to visit. 
In front of the well sits a paving stone from the ancient Roman road.

In the 12th century, 
when Peter Abelard fell out with Notre Dame,
he moved across the river and set up open air classes with his students in the area.

If you're in need of your own literary pilgrimage 
after wandering through the churches
or along the tiny streets,
just around the corner is the famous Shakespeare and Co.
now even with its own little café on the corner.

Next time we'll visit the interior of St. Severin
with it's gorgeous twisting column.

And in the meantime,
we're only a month from spring now. 
The crocus have already arrived in my yard
and the daffodils are next, pushing up and out. 
It won't be long. 
Enjoy, and bid farewell,
to the end of winter. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Concert at St. Julien le Pauvre

One of the churches I ventured into this visit to Paris
was St. Julien le Pauvre.
I hadn't remembered on my last trip here
that it's a Greek church! 

Some of you know that I collect photos of
the Annunciation.
And I found this little sweet one below
on one of the panels just underneath the large cross in the first photo. 

This church regularly participates in concerts
and we were able to make this piano and accordion concert
on the first day of the new year. 

St. Julien le Pauvre
is one of the oldest churches in Paris,
 built between 1170-1240. 
But before this building,
from about the 6th century on, 
stood a Merovingian hostel for pilgrims.
It is said that it stood on the Roman road to Spain
and thus for medieval pilgrims 
on the road to St. James shrine at Santiago de Compostela
(though it was too small to be listed in the medieval Pilgrim's Guide.)

describes how Bishop Gregory of Tours 
was the first to write about the basilica and hostel
in his History of the Franks.

As he considered St. Julien 
to be one of his patron saints,
he lodged at the Basilica of St. Julien the Martyr
and said a midnight mass there.

Archaeological finds determined that the building originally stood 
in the middle of an ancient cemetery
and unearthed Roman and Merovingian sarcophagi and other artifacts.

One of my favorite things in the church was this angel.

The little church looked even sweeter with this lovely piano in its midst. 

And I positioned myself in the audience
to have a perfect view of the angel. 

When we got home that evening after the concert,
we went online and discovered that the angel is Archangel Gabriel,
the very same angel who appears in the Annunciation
and is often associated with  gifts of knowledge and messages to prophets.

Another of my favorites at St. Julien le Pauvre
 shows Jesus revealing himself to Mary Magdalene. 

Next time I'll share a few photos outside the church. 
It's located across the river from Notre Dame 
and just across from the entrance to the Latin Quarter. 


Have been posting a few of my Paris photos
on Instagram as well.
Follow me there for more travel photos. 

(Photos Copyright: Kirsten Steen)