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.

Saturday Through My Lens: Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

This week's Saturday Through My Lens is almost a Sunday Through My Lens. It's been a crazy week and a busy day, but the clock hasn't struck midnight yet, so I'm still gonna call it Saturday Through My Lens!

Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

This week's edition features Shakespeare & Company Bookstore in Paris, France.

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

The ORIGINAL Shakespeare & Company was opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach and became a popular hangout for the American ex-pats in Paris in the Roaring 20s, including Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce.

Notre Dame is our backyard

In 1964, Sylvia passed away. Bookstore owner George Whitman changed his store's name to Shakespeare and Company to honor her after her death. The store, just across the river from Notre Dame, is a still a thriving community gathering place for poetry and book readings, book discussions, and selling books, of course!

Our lives are a story.

George was a very passionate man, and he followed in Sylvia's footsteps to create a place that artists and writers could write and gather as they passed through Paris. He opened his doors to them, and by his claims over 40,000 artists have slept in the tiny beds over the bookstore.

George's Memorial Banner

Unfortunately, George passed away in 2011, but his legacy and his passion live on in his daughter, aptly named Sylvia Beach Whitman.

Ironwork Reflections

I first heard about the bookstore in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. I was reading The Paris Wife at the time, which is based on Hemingway's first marriage and his time in Paris. So I was so excited to visit this little treasure in my favorite city.

Shakepeare's likeness

It was almost magical, visiting this tiny little store that had breathed life and hope into so many, right as I was about to make the leap into my own dreams of being a writer.

First Editions and Rare Books

The store is a wonderfully eclectic mix of old and new books. All in the English language right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Paris.

The Rare Books side of Shakespeare and Company

One side of the store is dedicated entirely to rare first editions.

First Edition Sense & Sensibility

You cannot imagine the elation and giddiness of this history buff, aspiring writer, and lover of antique books to see such marvelous treasures from legends of the written word.

Hemingway's Moveable Feast

I was especially intrigued by a rare copy of Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, written during his time in Paris.

I'll take quaint and messy over large-chain and neat!

No cameras are allowed inside the store. It is not a tourist attraction, but a legitimate bookstore, with readings and workshops and signings. And even as a passionate picture person, I agree with Sylvia's decision on preserving that. (Though I couldn't resist taking a quick snapshot zoomed through the doorway just to show that this is no chain bookstore with large aisles and flourescent lighting. It's quaint, unique, cluttered, and passionate.)

lady In purple peruses a book

Eventually I had to pass the camera off to My Knight to go and peruse in purple. I longed to feel the history with my hands and search through the plethora of words with my eyes and my heart. I could have spent hours there. And someday, I will.

If these photos or this place intrigued you at all, I strongly encourage you to check out the store's website by clicking here. It is one of the most fascinating websites I've ever visited. The website is every bit as intriguing, eclectic, unique and artistic as the store itself. Each picture, each note posted, leads to you another treasure, much like the twisting and crooked aisles of the store itself.

You can also click here for the store's history on Wikipedia.

Or.....You could just go to Paris and see it yourself.

P.S. Oops. It's after midnight. This is now officially a Sunday Through My Lens. Oh well. It will shock no one that I am late.

A Valentine for My Knight

Today is Valentine’s Day, and I’m a hopeless romantic, so I hope you’ll pardon me if I use this very public forum to tell the world how much I love my husband.  You might want to get some wine and crackers, cause it might get a bit cheesy up in here….

Hot Air Balloon Ride for Anniversary Vow Renewal

I thought that someday I would find someone

           who would automatically know what I needed.

Someone who would automatically know what I wanted.

Someone who would accept me just as I am.

I thought that someday I would find someone

           who was everything I had looked for.

But instead I found you. Continue reading "A Valentine for My Knight"

Blood, Needles, Movies and France

Blood mobile, give blood, donate blood, the gift of lifeOur church believes in giving, so on some regular schedule that I have never figured out, the blood bus shows up for everyone to donate blood.  I have always had a slight aversion to needles, especially those piercing my skin.
It's not that it hurts overly much, but the anticipation of it nearly drives me to tears.  Oh, who am I kidding?! It has driven me to tears on more than one occasion, which is almost always embarrassing (eyes watering, not sobbing. I'm not THAT wimpy).
But since it seems unlikely that I will be able to save lives in the normal course of my daily routine, I think it's important to give blood and make the effort at saving lives that way.
A couple of years ago, I was settled in one of the bus recliners with a nice cup of OJ, giving blood, donating bloodtrying hard not to pay attention to the nurse about to stab me in the arm.  I usually talk non-stop to the other people in the bus in my efforts to ignore it (and those of you making mental comments asking how that is different from any other time I'm talking should be ashamed of yourselves).