If you visit Paris, one of the most impressive attractions you could see is the famous Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris, which is not only a religious destination but also a place of great art and unequaled history.
Notre-Dame de Paris (French for “Our Lady of Paris”), also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a historic Catholic cathedral located on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in Paris, France. Being considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, the Cathedral is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The beauty of its sculptures and quality of its stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture.
The cathedral’s treasury is well known for its reliquary which houses some of Catholicism’s most important relics including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.
The Notre-Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave but after the construction started to show signs of stress fractures as the walls pushed outward, the cathedral’s architects built supports around the outside walls, and later further additions.
A multitude of individually crafted statues was placed around the outside to serve as column supports and water spouts. Among these are the famous gargoyles, designed for water run-off, and chimeras, statues that were originally colored as was most of the exterior.
The cathedral was essentially complete by 1345. The cathedral has a narrow climb of 387 steps at the top of several spiral staircases; along the climb it is possible to view its most famous bell and its gargoyles in close quarters, as well as having a spectacular view across Paris when reaching the top.
In 1160, because the church in Paris had become an attraction for the kings of Europe, Bishop Maurice de Sully decided that the previous Paris cathedral, Saint-Étienne, which had been founded in the 4th century, was unworthy of its role. To begin the construction of the new Cathedral, the bishop had several houses demolished and had a new road built in order to transport materials for the rest of the cathedral. Construction began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII. The construction of the choir took from 1163 until around 1177 and the new High Altar was consecrated in 1182 (it was normal practice for the eastern end of a new church to be completed first, so that a temporary wall could be erected at the west of the choir, allowing the chapter to use it without interruption while the rest of the building slowly took shape). Between 1210 and 1220, the fourth architect oversaw the construction of the level with the rose window and the great halls beneath the towers.
The Cathedral has been damaged many times: in 1548 by rioting Huguenots, in 1793 during the French Revolution and the worst during the Second World War. Several of the stained glass windows on the lower tier were hit by stray bullets. These were replaced after the war with new modern geometrical pattern stained glass, not the old scenes of the Bible.The cathedral has been even used at some point as a warehouse for food storage.
In 1991, a major program of maintenance and restoration was initiated, which has included the cleaning and restoration of old sculptures. The lighting was upgraded to LED lighting.
Though several organs were installed in the cathedral over time, the earliest ones were inadequate for the building. The organ used now has 7,374 pipes, with ca 900 classified as historical. It has 110 real stops, five 56-key manuals, and a 32-key pedal board. The position of titular organist (“head” or “chief” organist) at Notre-Dame is considered one of the most prestigious organist posts in France. It was reminiscent of the 18th-century practice of the cathedral having four titular organists, each one playing for three months of the year.
The cathedral has 10 bells. The largest, Emmanuel, original to 1681, is located in the south tower and weighs just over 13 tons and is tolled to mark the hours of the day and for various occasions and services. In early 2012, the four old bells in the north tower were deemed unsatisfactory and removed. A set of 8 new bells was cast by the same foundry in Normandy that had cast the four in 1856. At the same time, a much larger bell called Marie was cast in the Netherlands—it now hangs with Emmanuel in the south tower. The 9 new bells, which were delivered to the cathedral at the same time (31 January 2013), are designed to replicate the quality and tone of the cathedral’s original bells.
1185: Heraclius of Caesarea calls for the Third Crusade from the still-incomplete cathedral.
1239: The Crown of Thorns is placed in the cathedral by St. Louis during the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle.
1302: Philip the Fair opens the first States-General.
16 December 1431: Henry VI of England is crowned King of France.
1450: Wolves of Paris are trapped and killed on the parvis of the cathedral.
7 November 1455: Isabelle Romée, the mother of Joan of Arc, petitions a papal delegation to overturn her daughter’s conviction for heresy.
1 January 1537: James V of Scotland is married to Madeleine of France
24 April 1558: Mary, Queen of Scots is married to the Dauphin Francis (later Francis II of France), son of Henry II of France.
18 August 1572: Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV of France) marries Margaret of Valois. The marriage takes place not in the cathedral but on the parvis of the cathedral, as Henry IV is Protestant.
10 September 1573: The Cathedral was the site of a vow made by Henry of Valois following the interregnum of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that he would both respect traditional liberties and the recently passed religious freedom law.
10 November 1793: the Festival of Reason.
2 December 1804: the coronation ceremony of Napoleon I and his wife Joséphine, with Pope Pius VII officiating.
1831: The novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was published by French author Victor Hugo.
18 April 1909: Joan of Arc is beatified.
16 May 1920: Joan of Arc is canonized.
1900: Louis Vierne is appointed organist of Notre-Dame de Paris after a heavy competition (with judges including Charles-Marie Widor) against the 500 most talented organ players of the era. On the 2nd of June 1937 Louis Vierne dies at the cathedral organ (as was his lifelong wish) near the end of his 1750th concert.
26 August 1944: The Te Deum Mass takes place in the cathedral to celebrate the liberation of Paris. (According to some accounts the Mass was interrupted by sniper fire from both the internal and external galleries.)
12 November 1970: The Requiem Mass of General Charles de Gaulle is held.
6 June 1971: Philippe Petit surreptitiously strings a wire between the two towers of Notre-Dame and tight-rope walks across it. Petit later performed a similar act between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
31 May 1980: After the Magnificat of this day, Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass on the parvis of the cathedral.
January 1996: The Requiem Mass of François Mitterrand is held.
12 December 2012: The Notre-Dame Cathedral begins a year-long celebration of the 850th anniversary of the laying of the first building block for the cathedral.
The Cathedral is open every day of the year: Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:45 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 7:15 pm. The access to the cathedral is open and free.
The cathedral reception is open: Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Adela Galasiu, 2015
Source: Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Wikipedia, google.
Photos: Adela Galasiu, 2015
Motto: “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start…
It’s the only good fight there is.” Charles Bukowski
Today is a gift. I am grateful to be here, feeling alive. I breathe in. I listen to a ring-dove singing in the tree next to me. I take in the air, the light, the smell of yesterday’s rain. Bumblebees come out sleepy trying to make up for the food they could not collect yesterday, hovering over lavender bushes and peppermint flowers that wave gently in the breeze. God smiles over us. The sun shines through the branches of the chestnut tree, my flowers bloom in the garden, their colours vibrating live a song in my eyes. Maybe they are, just like me, a part of God’s dream. Or maybe they are just a form of different frequency than the one of my soul. Maybe they are just strings that God plays with , like one plays a harp. It all makes sense, even though often my mind cannot even grasp the beauty of it all.
I drink a glass of water and contemplate life, like I do every once in a while, like we probably all do. Some people think that knowing that time is precious can make you lead a better life. What would I tell you if this would be my last day?
I’d say I’ve lost many things in this life, and sometimes it has felt like I’ve lost it all. Friends, time, love, children, relatives, sometimes even my mind. I’ve eaten too much or nothing for days. I’ve eaten my own bitterness and I drank the poison of my own ink-black thoughts. I’ve been freezing in train stations and on park benches thinking of why certain things happened in my life, feeling sorry for myself. I thought I was sometimes carrying too much luggage, but I think that was more the burden of my own life. Yet I have found out later that many of those things I’ve never really had, that they were never meant for me.
I have seen derision. And it was not the one coming from strangers that has hurt the most, but the one seen in the eyes of people I have helped out of their own ditch and considered friends. They say in my language that “the ones you don’t let die, will not let you live”. It was painful to find out what character some people really had. it has been gutting at times. Now it does not hurt any more, I have come to terms with all my experience. I have become older and hopefully wiser. I have learned not to regret things and I am mostly good at it, even though I can still catch myself doing it sometimes. I’ve often done my best and I know now that what people give is certainly what people will receive later in life.
Isolation? It is not a monkey thing. It feels sweet. It is not for everybody, I know it can be torture for others. But solitude is my gift. After all the pain induced by many things coming from the outside, my isolation meant discovering myself and finding peace, listening to my own soul tuning in with the one of the universe. And that is bliss.
Rejection? Yes, I felt plenty of that. I was one of those people that can feel like outsiders. Until I realised that I would have never belonged in certain circles of people or in the toxic environment that comes with them. So actually this was not a rejection, it was a discovery. It took me years to see that God had better plans for me , that He was opening me the right doors while I was trying like a stubborn child to open the wrong ones, again and again.
This is my path and you all have your own. Life is a journey. Some people learn from it, others get to the end of it not understanding anything, feeling bitter and angry. It may not be easy to walk on your own path, but it’s your quest. It all depends on how much you want it. And if you want it truly it will be better than anything you have ever imagined. It will equal conquering all your fears, it will mean finding your true self and facing God at the same time. Your days may be hard, but your heart will flame with the fire of all the passion you have in you. It will not be life that breaks you, but it will be you riding your own life.
I am only a tiny soul in an immense ocean of souls. All different, yet all the same. When I think of this I imagine a sky full of stars. The universe is immense, but we all have our own space, our own inner light and our own trajectory. I am trying to grasp what this life experience is all about, maybe just like you all. I’ve seen a lot and I still know almost nothing. But one of the few things I know now is that we should not be afraid, we should not let worry dry out our soul. Life is joy and we should experience the joy of being alive, the experience of our soul having a material body and interacting with others.
There’s no path, make your own. Be bold, be strong, be yourself. Try it, go all the way, it’s the best thing of all.
900 words, memyselandela, August 2015
Photo: Lavender, Adela Galasiu, August 2015
The beauty in God’s dream
slowly blooms, petal by petal,
watched quietly by the whole being
in a breath of silent bliss.
Frumusetea din visul lui Dumnezeu
Infloreste incet, petala cu petala,
privita tacut de o intreaga faptura
intr-o rasuflare de beatitudine fara zgomot.
22 words / 22 de cuvinte , Memyselfandela – Adela Galasiu, August 2015
Photo: Memyselfandela – Adela Galasiu, August 2015
An old very faithful churchman used to end the liturgy with a prayer saying:
” Lord , please put Thy finger into the chest of the unsaved and bring them back on the right track “.
After many years the man was asked again to end up the liturgy with the same prayer.
He said: ‘God please put … ” and stopped.
After several embarrassing moments he only ended with “Amen.”
Asked later why he did not finish his prayer as usual, the old man said:
” I had a vision. And God told me: “YOU are my finger!” “
God counts the tears of women
For He knows the measure of life and suffering…
Tears, drops of sacrifice, drops of life essence,
Drops of smile, drops of deception,
Drops of love, drops of dew,
Fuel for the gift of life and forgiveness…
God counts the tears of women,
He alone knows the number…
Women alone feel it.
And God smiles.
Photo : Photobucket
Yesterday lovely Nicola Humphries, BBC producer and wonderful woman with a big heart, has given me the opportunity to tell a story.
It has all started with my beloved Rhapsody in Blue and Gershwin, but for me this represents the tip of my soul iceberg. I have dived very deep in my past to the times when I was a happy child. I have spoken about life in the Communism, oppression, the tragic death of my father which has coincided with the beginning of the Romanian Revolution on the 22 of December 1989. I have tried to describe life as it was, but time was short and words don’t come always easy. I have had moments when my mind has frozen and when I could not find my words as in the back of my eyes I have kept my tears, because I cannot get back in some moments in time without feeling again all that intense pain.
I am in love with music because it has always been for me a gate to freedom and a window of hope in the darkest moments. I have remembered the most intense moments that I have lived and witnessed, the blood on the streets of Sibiu, the fear when people were shot, the agony of not knowing what was happening with my father when he did not come back home, the death striking my family when we have least expected, the love and the absolute loss.
I may be different than other people given the intensity of situations that I have lived, things that could have made other people get insane. I have been through things that normally do not happen to other people. Those have been moments that have not destroyed me, but made me stronger. This is one of the reasons why I write and I have started my blog. I believe that despite all pain, beyond all loss, life is both a path and a fight. We can all create a better path and win our battle. I truly believe that none of us should give up, that we should all have peace of mind and hope in our heart for the day to come. I believe it because I have been myself on the edge of despair and I have looked into the abyss of depression many times in my life.
As I came out of the BBC I have entered the Church of All Souls. I believe nothing is accidental. I have been not given the chance to speak about me alone, but the chance to recall and mention my mother, my father, my love, my loss, my hope. Maybe it was a way of setting myself free and closing a deep pain of the past, a bleeding succession of losses that I have lived with for a long time.
500 words, memyselfandela, February 2014
Photos: Adela Galasiu, February 2014
Many thanks to wonderful Nicola Humphries and BBC 4, Soul Music.