Another very nice day in Paris. Today… with some sun! (But no less humidity.)
First I celebrated Mass at Rue du Bac again. It is a truly wonderful place and I hope that everyone who comes to Paris will visit there. The church seems always to be nearly full. I was particularly impressed with some of the ex-votos as I was leaving (future post on this topic).
From there I came back to my lodging, ate my high-priced peanut butter and crackers (read: breakfast; supplies purchased at the nearby La Grande Epicerie de Paris, with fairly grande prices, but worth it), finished saying my morning prayers, and then set out.
First stop was the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur), which sits on a butte (hillock) in the somewhat-northern part of the city. It was a pretty long metro ride to get there., followed by a walk of a few blocks, then a funicular ride up the hill. After going up and down the stairs about three times at Rue du Bac (another story), I was not interested in climbing 250 steps to get up to the Basilica, what with a day of walking ahead of me…
Sacred Coeur is beautiful. I was there at a fairly odd time for a Mass to be celebrated on a Saturday, but sure enough, a Mass was being celebrated, with a full congregation. No photography is allowed inside. I was good and followed the rules, but someone who entered just ahead of me did not. And was swiftly tackled by a docent who must have had steak and eggs for breakfast and was ready for game. It was the kind drama I expect to see daily in Italy but not in France.
So as far as the interior of Sacre Coeur goes, I just have my memories. I prayed for your prayer intentions there.
After that I stopped at an adjoining abbatial church, which was nothing interesting really, you know, just another hundreds-of-years-old church; then I took some photos of various views, stopped in an art nouveau-style church near the metro (also not worth photographing), then descended back down several levels underground to take the metro to my next stop… Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Victories is “the” Marian Shrine in Paris and a very special place. St. Thérèse of Lisieux had a great devotion to Our Lady of Victories by whose intercession, as I recall from reading The Story of a Soul, she obtained the grace of healing from scrupulosity. This was a truly wonderful place. So special that I went there both before and after lunch.
Before lunch, there was adoration going on at the high altar, and that area of the church was completely full of people who were praying before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Not to mention several people “farther out” in the nave of the church also praying. Again, not what I expected to see in Paris – a pleasant surprise.
After some special prayers before the Blessed Sacrament and also before the miraculous image of Our Lady – at which time I left in the prayer intention basket the sheet of paper on which I had written all your prayer intentions – I headed to lunch. Chez Subway, where I had my usual, a 6″ (that’s 15cm in Europe) turkey sub, not heated, with cheddar cheese, lettuce, and mayonnaise (but not too much, please).
After lunch, back to Our Lady of Victories for more prayer and more admiring of the ex-votos (on which I will write a future post). During this time a priest from Hungary, speaking to me in somewhat-broken French and all too happy to speak to me, gave me a copy of his book (though I half-wondered if he was hoping I’d offer him something for it – sorry). There was Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (always nice) and a lovely sister giving lovely catechesis to lovely children preparing for their First Holy Communion. There was also a guy snoring somewhat loudly in a pew, but I’m sure he needed the sleep.
Following Notre-Dame-des-Victoires it was back into the metro to head towards the Arc de Triomphe. Apart from the underground maze of stairwells and hallways (it involves taking the regular metro and the RER, which I think is the fancier and deeper-underground metro, though the stations are uglier), after a while I arrived and it was nice that the escalator dumped us out right smack in front of the arch. I took the required tourist photographs and was on my way towards the Eiffel Tower.
Using the Google Maps app on my smartphone, I had the impression that it was a relatively short walk, but in fact, it was more like 10 miles. Or maybe one and a half. Either way, I eventually got to the bridge crossing the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, meaning that at that point I went from strolling briskly-but-casually down nice Paris streets to full-defense-mode-pocket-guarding-crowd-situation sightseeing. I posted before about how impressive the Eiffel Tower was. It was not impressive enough, however, for me to want to wait on line and go to the top of it.
After various photos, including a nice one of the incredibly green “Field of Mars” stretching out before the Eiffel Tower, I headed in the direction of the Basilica of St. Clotilde, home to a famous organ and the former home to famous organists. Feeling a bit worn out (in a strange way), the thought came to me that I should probably get something to drink, so I stopped at a Carrefour (my favorite European grocery store chain) along the way and bought a PowerAde, which hit the spot. There was another church along the way, but it was not all that interesting.
After about another 10 miles (plus or minus) of walking I arrived at St. Clotilde’s, yet another enormous gothic church. There were children playing ball on the little plaza out front and the church was basically empty. Alas, no one was rehearsing on the organ, nor could I even find so much as an indication that they might occasionally have organ recitals there. But, unlike so many other churches I have seen in Paris, this one was actually kept in fairly orderly condition (future post topic).
Since the clouds were gathering and my ilMeteo Italian weather app said that there was a chance of rain, after a short walk from there to the nearest metro stop I got on the next train back to the area where I’m staying. A little rest, evening prayer, blog posting, etc., and then it was time to think of dinner.
Dinner was at a nearby restaurant that I found on TripAdvisor. It was a bit of a splurge (i.e. not Subway or McDonald’s) but I justified it in view of a certain event I’m celebrating next Friday. And it was absolutely delicious. And the owner was very friendly. I ordered a glass of celebratory champagne to start and, being the first one in there (about 7:20pm, when only Americans eat out), I felt kind of bad that he had to open a new bottle just for me. But fortunately, it seems that the American family that came in after me finished it off, so all’s well that end’s well!
This evening: some studying, bed; and tomorrow: a few things on the agenda before I head back to Rome!