17 March 2006


Colin, Rachel, Maggie and I checked out the Veneration of the Relics ceremony at Notre Dame this afternoon. If what this church says is to be believed, we saw a piece of the True Cross, a nail from the Passion, and the Crown of Thorns. Given that there are at least 700 versions of "the" Crown of Thorns scattered about the world, I suspect that we didn't actually see the real thing. It was interesting to think about, though.

The ceremony wasn't too long, considering a typical Catholic service. Fortunately, it wasn't a Mass, so we didn't have to sit in the back while everyone else took communion. But, it was really neat to see some of the Knights Templar, as well as the Catholic regalia of robes, incense, and so forth. The service was in French, so I understood a teeny little bit of it (much like three-quarters of the people around us, who were also tourists who had hardly a clue as to what was going on).

The cool part of the service was that everyone who participated was allowed to file past the relics so that we could see them up close. Since the Crown of Thorns is "the most precious and the most revered" of the relics (according to the English version of the handout), you get to walk right up to it and give it a kiss if you like! I *almost* chickened out because the woman who cut in line in front of me didn't give it a kiss. But, then I figured, it's *expected* that I give it a kiss, so why not? The attendants even had a special cloth to wipe it off between kisses, so they were ready for me.

No doubt you're wondering by this point if I took a thorn to the lips. I can assure you that I didn't because A) there are no thorns left (they've all been given away over the centuries) and B) the whole thing is in a protective glass cylinder. Since we couldn't take pictures, I bought a postcard with a picture, and then took a picture of that, which is what's posted with this blog entry. The nail and the piece of the True Cross are in custom-made glass containers, too, but we didn't get to see it as close up as the crown.

So, I don't know if I really had a brush with greatness today, but it was an interesting cultural/religious experience nonetheless.

Tomorrow, Colin and I are going to participate in another Parisian tradition: rioting! OK, just kidding. Actually, there is supposed to be a HUGE anti-CPE rally at Denfert Rochereau tomorrow, which is just up the street from us. Curiosity has the best of us, so we're going to walk that way tomorrow with our camera and see what happens. The good part is that, if it's scary, we can just go back home to the safety of our apartment.

You know, I used to joke that no tour of Ann Arbor is complete if you don't participate in a protest. Little did I know that Paris is WAY ahead of the measly little war protest groups in front of the post office!


At 17/3/06 20:27, Blogger croust said...

For those of you who don't read French, the caption on the photo of the Crown reads:

The Holy Crown of Thorns
Venerated at Notre-Dame de Paris, it was acquired from Baudoin de Courtnay, the Emperor of Constantinope, in the 13th century by Saint Louis [aka, Louis I, a former king of France]. Before it was placed in the Chapter of the Cathedral, following the French Revolution, the Sainte Chapelle was its reliquary.


Post a Comment

<< Home