Friday, September 13, 2013

Remi and Saint Cesaire



The rays of the sun's late glow drew us towards the cloister of the Saint Trophime Cathedral. 



The air bubbled with excitement for it was the vernissage or opening for the new exhibition Sur le pas de Saint Césaire.



Fifteen hundred years ago, the Pope offered Caesarius of Arles the first pallium (a long scarf denoting high rank) given to a Western bishop. The exhibition was organized to celebrate this special anniversary and featured not only various relics...


...but also the child-sized sarcophagus in which his remains were hidden for years. Caesarius or Césaire in French was elected bishop in 502 AD and rose to eminence based on an ideology centered on the guiding force of love, austerity and creating lasting bonds of peace--this despite frequent attacks by the Visigoths and Franks during his 39 year tenure. He established the first monastery for women in Gaul and was considered "the leading ecclesiastical statesmen and spiritual force of his age."


Also according to citations in Wikipedia, Césaire dreamed of "an expanding, world-embracing, world-uniting society." It is fascinating, isn't it? Little wonder that his faithful followers did all that was necessary to protect his remains through wars and the Revolution, moving them to different locations each time they were deemed at risk. 

His tunic and the pallium were finely restored over a two-year period by Anastasia Ozoline, who is the director of the committee for the exhibition as well as it's scenographer.


It was she who contacted my companion, Remi Benali, to ask if he would be willing to contribute several of his photographs to help illustrate the areas of Arles where Césaire is most present today. There was definitely something of the "meant to be" in the circumstances of his meeting this lovely woman, who glows with goodwill. He happily accepted.


It was a delight to watch the crowds flow through the exhibition, listening to the phenomenal explanations by Jean-Maurice Roquette, whose bounding knowledge and discourse belies little of his 83 years of age...


Eyes darted down then up, quickly taking in the context. Whispers flowed like little rivers.


I felt a surge of pride...


...and I was not the only one!


Many of the prominent local historians and politicians were in attendance (as well as the Queen of Arles and a member of her court). While the official speeches rolled on, we eyed the awaiting buffet laid out in a side wing of the cloister...


...but chose to climb up to the upper walkway to take in great gulps of the cool autumn air.


How fortunate that we have this cloister, which rings with a deep peace as loudly as the bells in the cathedral's tower that rises above it.


We all took turns...


...at falling into the silence of a calm heart.


Another day ended, another moon rising. One to reflect the memory of a fore-founder of peace that crossed these streets so many years ago. May something of his spirit live on...


from September 12th to October 31st
The St. Trophime Cloister, Arles


Have a wonderful weekend everyone. May it take flight! 

41 comments:

  1. What a magical moment you've captured, Heather. I have chills! Congratulations to Remi, his photos look fantastic. You must be so proud. Such an exciting event.
    Enjoy the weekend!! XO

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    1. Thank you Jeanne--I will pass on your wishes to Remi. You must meet him next time!
      Have a wonderful weekend as well...
      xo

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  2. A wonderful story beautifully told, thank you. I love the first photo in particular.

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    1. It was a gorgeous moment--the birds exploded into action all at once! Remi asked, "Did you get it?" and I smiled because I did!!

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  3. Heather such spiritual images and what an enthralling exhibit. Sometimes when I am in places like this I feek inside that I have been there, lived there!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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    1. So beautifully said Karena. I absolutely know that feeling too.

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  4. Is that Remi, and one of his photographs? Thank you for telling us about Césaire and this wonderful exhibition about him. He must have been a bright light in what I've always been taught was a dark time. How amazing it must be to live in a place where his spirit is so present 1500 years after his life ended! Your words and photographs honor him beautifully. With abiding admiration, Leslie in Oregon

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    1. I wondered who would notice! :) No surprise that it was you, dear Leslie. And yes, from what I have read, his presence brought enormous peace during such a challenging time--his influence spread throughout the southern half of France and beyond.

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  5. I love this.. so beautiful! Wishing you all the best!

    Christina

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    1. And to you, Christina--how lovely to have you stop by. :)

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  6. This is on my must see list now the next time I am in Arles.... beautiful pictures and a lovely story... you are so fortunate to live among all that wonderful history that has weaved its magic throughout Provence....

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    1. I never take it for granted, Karen. It really is so special.

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  7. A beautiful night in every way so eloquently captured.

    I love going to openings -- especially those of friends. Wish I could attend this one too.

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    1. Oh, wouldn't that have been lovely? And yes, openings are so much more fun when it is for someone we care about, it is true! Thank you for the compliment as well.
      xo

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  8. Gorgeous - and la reine d'Arles as well? Too too wonderful. Bravo to Remi too.
    Bises,
    G

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    1. Yes, she looked fetching too. All of that shimmering silk. Her job is really just to be present, a walking symbol of tradition but she does it with elegance.
      Will pass on the bravo, dear G.
      Bon Weekend.

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  9. I agree heartily with Judith. And, gosh, can you imagine being considered the leading spiritual force of your age? Bit of pressure, no?

    All of the images are inspiring, as per usual, my dear. But there's something about the stained glass, I guess they're so unassuming for a typically Rococo medium, that I particularly appreciate. Though I've been moongazing a fair bit and that shot over Arles reminds me it's a small world after all ...

    A beautiful weekend to you, too.

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    1. Moon connecting me to you. :) Love that.

      And the stained glass for the Romanesque period is restrained as is the architecture. Where Gothic only went up and up and up, the Romanesque movement was about man reaching up to God and that love coming back down to Earth.

      And your first comment made me giggle! But I think that he was born for it. His first community as a monk was on the swishy Ile St Honorat (http://lostinarles.blogspot.fr/2012/05/cannes-and-ile-saint-honorat.html)--apparently a little too comfortable for him so he took to starving himself in protest. He had to come to Arles to recuperate his health.

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  10. Beautiful
    The part...guy taking a photo... big laugh aloud. Perked me up it did. Magnificent display.

    There is an app thing for download that's a Pinterest icon right over the corner of a picture for a mouse over to click to post to Pinterest. I keep finding myself mousing over your photographs.

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    1. No Pinterest for me Maywyn, I am staunchly against it for very, very solid reasons.

      And 'that guy' is my honey! He got a kick out of seeing one of his photos blown up into a five yard long banner. I did too. :)

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  11. Did you notice anything moving in the sarcophagus?

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    1. Yowza! What a crazily creepy question! Although, looking again, I wouldn't be surprised to see The Hand from the Addams Family come crawling out...

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  12. I feel a surge of pride, too! Not just for Remi and his always-stunning photographs and his chance to display them in this beautiful, special exhibit. But also for my sister who is a Yale-trained actor and yet writes and photographs SO beautifully! I wish I could have been there (in fact, I'm wondering if I have been to that cathedral/cloister?) - it looks like a lovely exhibit! Hooray for Remi and for you - thank you for sharing this beautiful night with us!

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    1. Sister! We did go with Mom but it was sooooo cold and then we went the last time you visited (there was a photo exhibit for the Rencontres) but it was soooo hot! You have a photo of us together there that I don't like too much because my arms look rather ginormous but I love being near my Sister.
      Your kind, kind words brought happy tears to my eyes this morning. I love you!!!!!!

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  13. Heather I have been trying to post comments on some of your older posts but without success. I read your Post on Saint Trophime Cathedral. I am glad you have that still, quiet place. I found such refuges from chaos in the old mosques of Cairo. It soothes my soul to think of the silent spaces, even now. Thanks for this exquisite walk through the exhibition.

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    1. Hello G! On the ooooother siiiiide of the plaaaannnneeeettttt. hehehe

      Actually, I moderate the comments on all of my posts that are older than 2 days as it has cut down the number of spam pretty much completely--that and no longer allowing anon comments (those of us on blogger have to deal with this :). So I do get them! See? Yours is published! But yes, it is amazing what refuge is to be found in holy spaces, whether it is of your faith (or if you have faith) or not.

      But Cairo?!? I need details, please.
      Bisous.

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  14. So much history, so much beauty. And pride indeed! Bravo to Remi and you... What a thrill!

    xo

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  15. Oh, I wanted to thank you. I picked up the Melody Gardot CD - "My One and Only Thrill," and have been enjoying listening to it. Thanks for recommending her.

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    1. Oh hooray. Truly one of my favorite contemporary albums. I had to finally put it away for awhile because I had listened to it too much!

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  16. Isn't this the MOST interesting event ever? You must be thrilled to have been there and to have Remi participate. This is one of my most favorite posts. Heather. I would like to know more. xx's

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    1. What would you like to know, beautiful Marsha? :) I am really happy that you enjoyed this so much--it was even more special somehow in that it really came out of "seemingly" nowhere, although Anastasia, who has worked so closely on the relics believes that St. Cesaire himself sent Remi to her just in the nick of time. I believe that too.

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  17. Photographs exhibited with a saint means honor and achievement.

    Birds at the beginning and a solo flight at the end and a captured half moon are touches of art.

    Congratulations to you and Remi. And thank you.

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  18. Thank you, Edgar for your from the heart response and kind words. I will pass on your wishes to Remi too.

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  19. That first photo speaks volumes. You always capture the light and essence of a place so well. Congratulations to Remi for being part of such a prestigious exhibition. The said sounds like he was ahead of his time. Have a wonderful week in beautiful Arles.

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  20. Curious to know more about him...love and world peace but also austerity...interesting mix...I know very little about him (just a vague understanding from history lessons) so would love to see this exhibition to discover a little more. A tardis is required.

    Remi's images truly are a tardis in themselves. They can transport me to their very soul simply by gazing at them. A rare talent indeed!

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  21. Remi's Images are well deserving of such a space - they are gorgeous!!

    Who is this Queen of Arles - is there a history story you need to give us or - was that tongue in cheek?

    Cheers now - great insight!! Thanks!!

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  22. Queen of Arles... say what now?! That's just plain cool.
    Your pride for Remi is well deserved, heck, I'm proud of Remi!
    Beautiful shots as always Heather xx

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  23. Congrats to Remi! Beautiful post.

    okay I googled Queen of Arles and discovered she is chosen every three yrs. You learn something new every day!

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  24. Simply GOOD, dear Heather! What else can I say without repeating myself....
    Tres amicalement, karin

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