La Madeleine, Paris: Saturday Through My Lens

This week's Saturday Through My Lens features L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, or as she is more commonly known, La Madeleine.

L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine; La Madeleine, Paris

This incredible cathedral was originally consecrated as a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene in 1182, but it didn't look anything like this then.  In the 831 years since the original synagogue site was seized from the Jews of Paris, there have been many designers, architects, kings, emperors, and government with a hand in the history of La Madeleine.  The building as it is today was consecrated in 1842.

La Madeleine, Paris; L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

Throughout the years between, construction began, stopped, was razed, restarted, restopped, rerazed, over and over and over again, each time with a different design and many different purposes: church, temple, library, train station, ballroom.  In 1806, Napoleon decided to honor himself by building "A Temple to the Glory of the Great Army", and that is pretty much the building we see today.  The building that existed when Napoleon started construction was destroyed and rebuilt with his new design, but its massive columns were left standing.

La Madeleine, Paris; L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

La Madeleine has 52 columns surrounding her body, each approximately 65 feet high.  The columns were part of the 1777 design, which was based on the Roman Pantheon.  (which, of course, Rome borrowed from the original Corinthian temples!)

La Madeleine, Paris; L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

The main altar features the church's namesake, Mary Magdalene, being lifted to the heavens by angels.  The fresco on the half-dome above the altar is entitled The History of Christianity, and if you look closely, you might recognize the key figures of Christianity in the painting.  Along with Napoleon, front and center, of course!

La Madeleine's Domes; L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

In addition to the altar's half-dome, there are three Renaissance-style domes in the roof.  The gilded ceilings are quite a contrast to the stone simplicity of the Paris's more well-known cathedral, Notre Dame.

L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine; La Madeleine

The bronze doors of La Madeleine are huge.  Like, really big.  Like, look at My Knight standing in front of them to give you an idea of how big.  That's huge.  And above the gi-normous doors is the pipe organ, which was built in 1845 and is still used for masses and concerts today.  L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine; La Madeleine's pipe organ

As with most temples and cathedrals, the sculptures and statues are breathtaking, and I find I can stand in front of them and get lost in the expressions and the lifelike qualities.  Not to mention the amount of talent and work that went into making them.

L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

I don't think I'd like to be left alone here in the dark though.  My imagination might get the best of me.

L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

There have been several famous funerals witnessed by the statues, including King Louis XVI's.  He was brought to La Madeleine after his beheading and buried beneath her unceremoniously with just a few words spoken.  (He has since been exhumed and laid to rest more formally beside Marie Antoinette.)

La Madeleine; L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

Chopin's funeral was also held here, with quite the scandal it seems.  Chopin's requested Mozart's Requiem for his final (after-death) concert.  The piece required female voices, but female voices were not allowed in the church.  (Ironic, considering it was a church dedicated, built for, and named for a female figure in Christian history.)  Happy ending though.  Church leaders finally relented and hid the female singers behind a black velvet curtain.

L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

L'église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine is located in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris in the Opera Quarter.  She is offiically a parish of the Archdiocese of Paris, and there are still masses, funerals, and weddings held at La Madeleine today.  I highly recommend you visit her next time you're in the City of Lights!  And if you'd like to meet some interesting people, practice your French, and help the homeless, stop by Monday-Friday during lunch hours for a simple meal served by volunteers.

Why am I going through Driver’s Ed AGAIN???

learner's permitI never realized when my 15-year-old started Driver’s Ed it would mean a driving refresher course for me. Suddenly there is a voice in my car informing me of any traffic laws or guidelines that I am not following correctly. I truly never knew I was such a bad driver. “Mom, you’re supposed to stop AT the stop sign. You rolled a little past it before you stopped.” “Mom, you’re supposed to get in the turn lane during the dotted line part, not wait until closer to the turn.” “Mom, you’re supposed to have both hands on the wheel at 10 and 2. You shouldn’t drive with one hand.” It’s like that annoying GPS lady telling me that I am going the wrong way and need to turn around, only I can argue with her and tell her to hush. I can’t do that with my son. Because he’s right. I’m bending the rules. I am sure that when I started driving as a teenager, I was hyper-vigilant to make sure I was following all the rules to the letter. But after 20…oh, okay…30 years of driving, a lot of it has become an auto-pilot activity instead of a new and exciting responsibility. Don’t get me wrong – I try to be a responsible driver. I don’t drink and drive, I always wear my seatbelt, and I try to be defensive rather than offensive. But have you ever really gone 25 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour speed zone? You might as well open the driver’s door and push the car with your feet like Fred Flintstone. It is sooooo slow. My biggest challenge with being a good driver has always been speeding. Well, that is, until my son was old enough to read the speed limit signs and my speedometer. It was like having my very own radar system right in the backseat. He would call out the speed limit and my speed and tell me to slow down. Not really a request you can refuse. Nor can you really explain the “five miles over is okay” mindset to a child. His watchful presence in the car has kept me from become a texting driver, and being conscious of his eyes has kept me from ever flipping off other drivers or engaging in other antagonistic road behaviors. (although he may have heard the word “idiot” in reference to other drivers more times than I care to admit!) So I can’t really complain that he is telling me what he has learned in the class, and of course, I want him to be a safe driver and follow all the laws and rules. So I guess I’ll be coming to an absolutely full and complete stop at all stop signs now, and I will use my blinker every time I change lanes. Even when no one is behind me. Originally published at The Goddess Howe on the South Lake Tablet.

Happy Anniversary to The Goddess Howe!

Happy 1-Year Anniversary to The Goddess Howe blog! Yep, one year ago today I posted my very first blog as I stepped off into this crazy journey of pursuing my dreams. The Goddess Howe flower pictureTo all of you who have subscribed to the blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!  Your support means the world to me and has encouraged me on days when I questioned my sanity for doing this.  (And if you haven't subscribed yet, PLEASE DO! It's painless.  You just sign up with your email address and you get an email whenever I do a post.  Which you can read or delete or forward or ignore.) To those of you who have commented on my blog posts, a big huge thank you!  I read once that the difference in a blog and  a website is that a blog is a two-way conversation, so thanks for conversing with me. To all of you who have followed The Goddess Howe on Facebook, thank you!  Your likes, your comments, your shares, and your support have kept me going and inspired me to keep writing and keep posting.  Share it and spread the word whenever you like it!summer fun, beach, 4th of July, swimming And finally, I'd like to thank the Academy.....or more importantly, My Knight and Dr. Smooth, for reading every post, critiquing every post, and for providing so much great material.  We have two new catch phrases in the house.  1- You should blog about this! and 2- Don't you dare blog about this! Blogging is a funny thing.  Putting yourself out there to the entire world (or the portion of the world that will find your posts) and saying, "Here's how I feel.  Here's what I think.  Here's what happened to me."  Sometimes they like it.  They're inspired, or entertained, or encouraged.  Sometimes they don't like it.  They're offended, or infuriated, or bored. But isn't it just the coolest thing?? That I can sit down and write out what I'm thinking, or feeling, or experiencing, and for a brief moment in your and I connect?  No matter how far apart we might be, and whether we are family, close friends, or complete strangers....for that moment we connect.  Our lives bump up against each other in this big ole' world. So here's to another year of bumping into each other!  I'll keep posting; you keep reading and commenting. And now there is a whole new way for us to connect.  Starting today, The Goddess Howe will be featured as a weekly column in the South Lake Tablet.  It's new material, so check it out! I'm gonna celebrate today with a Diet Coke.  And maybe a cupcake.  But we can celebrate together by taking a look back at the most popular posts from this first year based on the stats.  Just click on the title to read that post.  Enjoy! (and seriously, thank you!)

wedding bouquet from wedding planner, The Goddess Howe#10:  Bizarre Things No Wedding Planner Wants to Hear

Spend fifteen years working weddings, and you wouldn't believe some of the crazy stuff you  hear.

#9: And You Thought Your Handy Man Was Hot

My Knight's incident with acid proved I didn't miss my calling by not going into Emergency Management.

chewing gum on folders for The Goddess Howe post#8: Grizzly Bears, Class Size, and Chewing Gum

When people ask why I quit teaching, I tell them penguin eggs and chewing gum.  Here's the gum part.

#7: Perfect Wedding Gone Haywire

Just when you think nothing can go wrong, inevitably it does.  Especially if it's a wedding.

#6: Laundry Lessons Learned

One of my most embarrassing moments.  And I chose to share it online with the world.  And people clicked on it enough to make it in the top ten posts on my blog.  Should I be proud or humiliated???

#5: Known By Love (Why Everyone Should Have An Aunt Zula)

I miss this dear lady so much, but I am so happy that my tribute to her resonated with so many people and made the top ten.  She would have smiled at that.  In fact, she probably is right now.

#4: Tattoos, Pole-Dancing, and Cirque du Soleil

More people get to this post through random Google searches than any other post I have written.  I never knew so many people searched the web for "pole dancing tattoos".  And I can almost guarantee you that this post was not what they were looking for!

snake coming out of the drain in a bath tub#3: Snake in the Tub: An End to All Bubble Baths

This post has definitely caused the most controversy by far.  Many people would not read it based on the title.  Several friends cursed me for posting pics of snakes.  And a few have cursed me because they don't enjoy bubble baths anymore.  And this post garnered my first piece of hate mail.  Some total stranger had very strong opinions on what happened in my bath tub.  To each his own.

#2: Meeting Justin Furstenfeld: Our Blue October Adventure

This is one of those posts that I wrote for me, to get it off my chest and express something I had been unable to express.  I didn't think anyone would relate to it or particularly like it.  But we are never truly alone in our thinking or our feeling.  And it turns out quite a few people could understand admiring someone so much and wanting to express that, and ending up looking like an idiot instead.  Enough to make it #2 on the stats.  (It helped that there are lots of Blue October fans!  #sway)
Blue October Justin Furstenfeld
Me, My Knight, & My Fave Singer

And the #1 post from The Goddess Howe's first year: No Zero Grading Policy

I told my principal when I left teaching that I hoped to do something to help kids on the outside that I was unable to do on the inside.  I am thrilled that this post on a subject I am so passionate about ended up getting more hits than anything else I have written here.  Anytime we can open a dialogue and enlighten others to see a cause, to question an issue, to converse and share information, there is hope for change.  And I firmly believe our public education system needs to change. So there you have it!  The top ten most visited posts from my first year.  I published 80 posts this year.  I am setting a goal to almost double that in the coming year.  I hope you'll keep coming back for more.  And tell your friends. The Goddess Howe Much love, The Goddess Howe      


Statue of Liberty Dr. Smooth was only three years old, and we were literally walking to the door with bags in hand to head out to SeaWorld on that beautiful September morning. The phone rang, and I turned back to see who it was.  It was my best friend Terri, whom we were to meet at SeaWorld with her boys.  Her voice was almost unintelligible, and that in itself scared me because Terri wasn't one to fall to pieces. "Turn on the TV!" She kept saying. "Turn on the TV!" I did, still holding my bag over my arm with our picnic lunch packed inside. There was chaos on the screen.  A burning building.  Something about a plane crash.  The World Trade Center.  The Twin Towers.  Even the newscasters seemed confused as to what had really happened. I had a 16" television set at the time, but that screen filled the whole room that day.  I pulled up a chair and watched first in bewilderment and then in horror as the events unfolded before our eyes.  Tragedy after tragedy, compounding upon each other as the whole country struggled to comprehend what was going on. The Sphere, World Trade Center sculptureThe unimaginable had happened. My country was being attacked.  Someone had declared war on us in the most cowardly of ways.  Someone meant for all these people to die.  It was unthinkable. The world as I had known it had changed. I was on the phone with a close friend at Disney relating the events since they had no television in the office when the supervisors came through the hallways telling them to go home. Disney was closing. This may sound trivial to some, but to others who have been Cast Members, I am sure you can relate.  That announcement brought what was happening home for me.  This wasn't something in some far off place, some far off city, or even a city a few states away. Disney. Doesn't. Close. This meant the threat was HERE, whatever the threat was.  I only thought I was scared before.  Suddenly, my world was not only changed; it was no longer safe. I held my three-year-old and prayed and cried.  I tried to shield him from the screen, from my fears, my tears.  But nothing could shield all of us from the pain and suffering that day had wrought.  And the fear of not knowing if it was over.  If there was more to come. Stars and Stripes, WTC MemorialThe world-- my world, my country, our country, our world--would never be the same. So much has happened in the twelve years since that day.  So many wars and conflicts and fights and battles.  So many lives lost.  So many families ripped apart.  So many people still recovering from that day and its continuing aftermath.  Physically, emotionally, financially. That three-year-old is now a fifteen-year-old who does not know a world without color-coded terror levels, airport security X-rays, and daily headlines of terrorist attacks. It still makes no sense to me.  I don't understand the motivation.  I don't understand the reasoning.  And I probably never will. But today, what I choose to remember is not the fear or the devastation.  I choose to remember the bravery.  The courage.  The heart.  The surviving.  The spirit.The Survivors' Tree of Hope from 9-11 at the WTC Memorial Our citizens pulling together and praying together.  Our neighbors and friends supporting, loving, giving.  Our first responders and our soldiers fighting, protecting, trying, sacrificing, risking, giving all they have. From my little tiny parking space here on the internet, I lift up my little tiny voice in the world to join with so many others today in remembrance.  And though I lift my voice, I bow my head. WTC Memorial, 9-11 MemorialI bow my head in prayer, for the families who have lost loved ones and are struggling today.  For the leaders of our country, our allies, and even our enemies. I bow my head in gratitude and respect to the responders who gave their lives on that day and in the years since from the complications of working in those conditions. To the soldiers who have fought and continue to fight to protect our country, our freedom, and the freedom of others across the globe. And to the families of those responders and soldiers who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for the greater good. I am proud and honored to be an American.  I am filled with gratitude that I live in the United States of America and that we are still free.  Flawed, but free. 9-11-01.  Never forget.  Never stop thanking and being grateful.  Never stop helping others.  Never stop looking forward with hope. Never stop praying for peace.

The New Tower, WTC Memorial, Tree of Hope