Just picking up a few missing threads from our pilgrimage as we leave the ancient but extremely wet duchy of Normandy. Of the great Benedictine Abbey of Jumièges only ruins remain, but splendid ruins nevertheless. It is hard to imagine what evil spirit caused the vandalism that tore these ancients stones apart less than two and half centuries ago. Something to ponder as we gasp in horror at the destruction visited by Isis today against even more ancient treasures.
I first visited Brancion several years ago on a Pilgrimage through Burgundy. This ancient medieval village, tucked away on a hilltop above the valley of the river Grosne immediately captured my imagination. You enter by way of a covered stone gateway (the clatter of hooves on the cobblestones is still almost audible). To your right, and elevated above the village, stands the ruins of the 12th century keep with its later 14th century additions still more or less intact.
The views from its walls are spectacular and offer a clear view of the surrounding countryside – no enemy was going to sneak up on the lords of Brancion. But who were these lords who built this place? Continue reading Brancion – October 2 2013
Cluny breaks your heart – at least it breaks mine. Traveling around France you become accustomed to seeing the destruction visited on Cathedrals, Churches, Abbeys and religious artifacts during the French Revolution (1789-1799), but in my view nothing compares with the loss of this once magnificent architectural and spiritual marvel of Medieval Europe, the greatest Abbey in western Christendom and Motherhouse of the Benedictine order. Little remains today of the glory that was Cluny, although you can still see the foundations extending from the remaining towers and running for nearly quarter of a mile parallel to the market square and streets of present day Cluny (now in part the site of the lovely little hotel de la Bourgogne.) Continue reading Cluny – October 2 2013
St. Peter’s Abbey stands on one of the highest points of the city in what used to be the village of Saint Peters (in the 12th century). Today, it lies in the heart of the student district of Ghent about a 15-minute walk from the center of town. Not much remains of the original Abbey founded in the 7th century by Amandus, a missionary sent from Aquitaine to Christianize the region, but it is still an impressive building consisting now mostly of an 18th century architectural superstructure with much earlier foundations and even earlier ruins – all well worth the visit (as always do not miss the crypt which is where you get the real sense of what an abbey, ancient church or cathedral was originally like). Continue reading St. Peter’s Abbey – September 26 2013