Friday, November 13, 2015

L'Église St. Vincent à les Baux

At times I am glad that certain things are still respected in our question mark world.

Sacred spaces are not always so or are often trapped in the parenthesis of context.

But surprisingly, amidst the bump and bubble of Les Baux-de-Provence, the Church of St. Vincent retains its sense of purpose, just as it has for nearly one thousand years.

Founded in the 12th century, it's rounded portal symbolizes the half-moon arc of man reaching up towards God and coming back down to Earth with God inside him, a reoccurring theme in Romanesque architecture.

The stones have been smoothed by so many supplicant hands. Bare heads of countless newborns have been dipped in the baptismal fonts.

I wonder if Les Baux's warrior troubadours would kneel to absolve themselves after their far-reaching attacks during Medieval times, their swords scraping the steps as they did. Did they beg for forgiveness? Were they granted it? 

Vincent of Sargossa, a Spanish martyr from the fourth century is the patron saint. Legend says that ravens protected his body from the vultures after he had been burned alive on a gridiron. He is invoked by winemakers, brick-makers and sailors. Certainly, the first of those might call upon him today as Les Baux is surrounded by gently sloping hills dotted with vines. The same need for protection from nature's whim - or man's - remains. 

Despite the jewel-like tones of its glass stained windows (donated by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1955), a somber mood prevails. Perhaps peace is honored as the church itself seems to be wrapped in a shroud of melancholy, one that would flutter in ages past as the "Lanterne des Morts" was lit under the gargoyles watchful stare when one of the villagers had died.

 Dug partly out of the hillside, the anchored walls of St. Vincent hold in their veracity.

While the recent time change has truly thrown me for a loop - as it always does - I hold dear this part of the year in its slow exhale, with strands of reflection wrapped around my fingers, binding them into something steady even when whispered, like a prayer?

Faith is a curious number.

Thank you for all of your incredibly kind wishes for Ben. Have a wonderful weekend.


  1. This is so beautiful. Thank you for your pictures. Again I want to be in our second home in France.

  2. Sacred spaces to me often have that mix of revered awe and also of a hint of melancholy. I always wonder so much about those who have gone ahead of us.

    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Sandra Goroff

  3. The time change has done nothing to your writing skills nor your photog prowess!
    Again, I find myself tiptoeing through this breathtaking post as not to intrude. Such a rich, thoughtful post,Heather.
    Thank you for sharing these intimate thoughts! T xx

  4. THAT first photo looks FAKE as it is JUST SO.............PERFECT!

  5. Replies
    1. after the terrible events yesterday, I came back to look at these photos. What turmoil have these walls witnessed, what prayers for peace have they heard? There is something healing here, knowing the centuries have continued despite the violent actions of mankind.

  6. Thank you for sharing your perspective on history
    I thought at first the beginning photos is a painting, brush strokes on the upper stone.

  7. You've captured and described this beautifully. There are so many churches I am looking forward to exploring down here in the south of France. I love the serenity of the church. Happy Birthday Ben!
    In Eze for a couple of weeks. xo, ebh

  8. A beautiful post, Heather. I'm pondering your last line. As a person of faith, I do find faith to be a curious thing, full of paradox and mystery and breathtaking beauty. If we understood it all, it wouldn't be faith. What a world we live in, where men have slaughtered and plundered in God's name. I wonder if he doesn't shake his head at us all. And now, as I write, I just turned off the news of the horrible attack on Paris, also done, perhaps, because of ideology and religion. God grant me a simple, loving faith.

  9. I've visited this church before, but never really 'saw' it until I read and saw your post. Thank you!

  10. Such beautiful photos. I, too, thought the first one was a painting. Feeling sadness for Parisians and the French tonight. More tragic to think these horrific deeds may be at least partly in the name of religion.

  11. I've been listening to the news all evening- so devastating. Prayers for you and all of France...

  12. Heather (and everyone) .. I feel the hot dagger of hatred and viciousness which has assaulted Paris, as if it were thrust into my own chest ... renewing my resolve to continue filling our consciousness with light at every given opportunity. Where light shines it is impossible for darkness to dwell. Heather, Mahalo et Merci for your continuing contributions to this philosophy of peace and beauty within the Human Experience. Our world needs you and those like you more than ever before.

    Mahalo Nui et Merci Beaucoup,

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  14. Ce monde ne changera jamais, dear Heather... (Vendredi 13-11-2015)

  15. Beautiful photographs Heather, especially the first one! Insightful words too.
    We all need to take peace into our hearts and not fear and hate. Our thoughts are with the people of France today. Many iconic buildings and landmarks all around the world, including here in Melbourne and the Sydney Opera House, are lit up in the tricolor. We stand with France.
    Deborah. Melbourne, Australia.

  16. A church gives that feeling or is a place of solace and serenity as your photos convey. A place where we can put our hands together in prayer.

    "Each of us moves things along in the direction of war every time we fail to love." -Etty Hillesum

    Let us pray for Paris and the worl, let us choose love and move the direction of love and peace.

  17. I read this today after all that has happened and your last sentence just seems so poignant. I feel that humanity has so lost its way that I cannot see any way out of this darkness. Only faith will set us free.

  18. The Middle Ages seem so far away... Some things sadly stay the same. Everywhere in the world. I wish you and Remi are well!


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