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Blog

Susan Marek's blog about angels, chakras, spiritual living, and more.

Filtering by Category: "Mary Magdalene"

The Pieta of Saint-Sulpice

Susan Marek

Saint-Sulpice stands at the corner of two small rues in Paris, not far from the Seine.  Her towering exterior, although lovely, pales in comparison to the mysteries and beauty inside.  There are gorgeous sculptures, paintings and stained glass wherever you look.  There is even a copy of the shroud of Turin in one chapel.  There is one piece of sculpture that caught my attention and continues to frequently occupy my thoughts. 
Pieta in Saint-Sulpice

Pieta in Saint-Sulpice


This piece is located in the Chapel of the Souls in Purgatory.  Purgatory, by the way, no longer exists, as decreed by the Pope. It is no longer a place, so much as a state of being. Wonder what happened to everyone who was there? The official guide book just lists it as "Pieta by Clesinger (1868).  Masterpieces of Saint-Sulpice, another book put out by the church, says, "Over the altar was set a stone Pieta between two angels, Clesinger's work." No sign. No plaque.  The books don't even have a picture, but they do dedicate about four, large, color pages to the church organ. Come on!  I am appalled by the obvious disrespect that is paid to this magnificent sculpture.  It is purposely overlooked for obvious reasons.  Look at the way Mother Mary is embracing both Mary Magdalene and Jesus.  Really take in the facial expressions of the Mary's.  It moves me to the core whenever I look at it.  Notice Mary Magdalene's hand under her beloved's.  It is both beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.  It brings up so many layers of thought and emotion in me.  Human mortality. Nature of Love.  Types of Love. Death. Life. Mother-in-laws. Church doctrine. Heresy. If I could find one, I would buy a reproduction of this for my home.  It is that powerful.  And it just one of the many wonders of this church. 

Vezelay!

Susan Marek

The drive to the north of France was lovely.  We passed chateau after chateau as we wove our way down country roads and through small villages toward Vezelay.  Our mission:  another church with mystery!  Vezelay is a small town with a quaint main street that leads uphill to the church.
Vezelay

This town is very much steeped in the Mary Magdalene traditions, with sea shells (one of her symbols) on buildings and embedded in the street.

The church has interesting carvings above the imposing doors and even small rats carved into the foot of one column!


Inside, the inner portal to the main body of the church has an intricate carving of Jesus along with the astrological symbols.  Unexpected and fabulous!  Who would have thought Jesus would share space with a Capricorn?

There is a chapel to Mary Magdalene across from the crypt.  She is holding the alabaster jar against her abdomen.
Mary Magdalene, Vezelay

Imbedded in the pedestal is a piece of her thigh bone.
Mary Magdalene reliquary, Vezelay

In the crypt is a beautiful reliquary containing a larger piece of her thigh bone.  Don't you think the reliquary looks Egyptian?
Mary Magdalene reliquary, Vezelay
The Crypt, Vezelay

There are beautiful statues of saints throughout the church, as well as some painted saints on the columns.  In addition to the Mary relics, one of the most fascinating things was something that wasn't on display.  It is the "host holder" that holds the sacred communion host for adoration.  It caught my eye on a sign in the church.  I think my jaw dropped open when I saw it.
Ankh, Vezelay

The holy Catholic sacrament is displayed in an EGYPTIAN ANKH!  LOVE IT!  In many of the shops in town, there are references to the Church, Egypt, Freemasons, and paganism.  What a unique and mysterious combination!  I love Vezelay!

After  brief visit, we left and made our way west to Chartres...

Mystery of the Black Madonna

Susan Marek

Before this trip, I had little knowledge or understanding of The Black Madonna.  These ladies sit in many churches in France (and other countries) and are misunderstood and discounted by most visitors.  There are many theories on why the Madonnas are black (or were black - many have been white-washed by the Church), but my personal feeling is that these Madonnas represent the divine feminine, an earthy, mothering, goddess aspect of I AM that brings forth creativity and renewal.  They are linked to Mary Magdalene, who also represents those qualities.  They exude love, compassion, understanding and hold secrets to not only the past, but to our present and future experience on our relationship to ourselves, each other, and the divine.  Upon returning home, I started gathering material on the Black Madonnas and am going to do some research on this lovely lady..  She fascinates me because of what she is said to represent, because the Church is SO threatened by her coloring it feels a need to paint her, and because her mystery is a source of information on a higher place. 

Alet-les-Bains

Alet-les-Bains


As if Black Madonnas weren't enough to keep me busy, I was introduced to the world of encoded stained glass windows.  I saw some of the most amazing windows in a little town called Alet-les-Bains.  The windows of this small church have Stars of David build into the supports for the windows and colorful, intricate glass within the frame.  Each tells a story, of course, but many were hard to see because of the height of the windows.  I was instantly obsessed with the symbolism in these windows and will have to add discovering their secrets to my list of things to do.  But I think, perhaps, the Madonnas and the windows have some shared secrets that are waiting to be discovered...

Black Madonna, Alet-les-Bains

Black Madonna, Notre-Dame-de-Marceille
 Oh, and we saw Nostradamus' house today.  It was a good day!

Another day, another castle...

Susan Marek

Oh, where to start today? Another chateau.  Yawn.  Another gorgeous view.  Sigh.  Just when I thought that the events of the day before were life-changing, another day came and additional miraculous places and experiences presented themselves. We started the day in Arques chateau, the beautiful remains of another Languedoc castle.  This place is extremely special energetically.  There is a lovely, divine current of energy that can be felt on this property.  The views from the tower are stunning, and the inside is cozy and light.  I am feeling somewhat selfish today with my experiences there and won't be sharing every detail, but here are some pictures which will help convey the beauty of the place.

Arques Castle

Arques Castle

view from Arques Castle

Arques Castle

Next stop was the Gorge of Galamus, a magnificent gorge near Bugarach mountain.  Built into the side of the steep rock walls is a hermitage, which houses a grotto dedicated to Mary Magdalene. 
hermitage in Gorge of Galamus

The hike into the gorge was not terribly difficult, but the rocks on the path were slippery due to the thousands of shoes that have polished them to a shine. With a small river bubbling in the background, I made my way to the entrance of the hermitage.  It was pleasantly cool inside and above, someone rang a bell, which at one time, probably called people to prayer.  Today, it beckoned me in further into the sacred space, which opened into a surprisingly large grotto.  It was breathtaking, with the high ceilings and soft candlelight.   After the requisite picture taking, I settled into a natural stone seat in the back of the grotto.  Mary Magdalene is said to have taught the Way of Love here, and from the energy that is imbued in this space, I truly believe that. 
Mary Magdalene Grotto

There is a palpable softness and feeling of love that emanates from the stone.  I had a powerful, personal experience here, which I am not ready to share, but it has left me changed.  This is a place of heaven on Earth with all of its human-ness and divinity expressed together. 

And for all you orb lovers, look closely at the last picture.  There are a few that joined us in the grotto. 

Alas, tomorrow there will be no chateaux.  But the mysteries keep coming!

Mas Cabardes' Weaver's Cross

Susan Marek

Mas Cabardes is a tiny town nestled in the mountains north of Carcassonne.  This sleepy hamlet is home to one of my favorite pieces of heretical art. Unassuming on the corner of two narrow streets sits a lovely cross.  At first glance, it looks like a normal cross, with Jesus, angels, and Mother Mary.  The addition of John the Baptist and Father God are different, but not unusual.  It takes the name 'Weaver's Cross' from the carving of the shuttle under Jesus' feet.  Cathars were shepherds, so this is said to be a nod to one of their professions.
Weaver's Cross, front

Where it gets really interesting is when you view the back of it.  The back tells the heretical side of the story.  Mary Magdalene, holding a baby (who is now decapitated) is crowned Queen of Heaven by the angels while God looks on.  On her left is Archangel Michael, protector of the Divine Feminine, and the other is unidentified, but has pen and book in hand, ready to tell her story.

Weaver's Cross, back
The church in this town is small, but mighty, having special symbolism of its own and some fabulous energy as well.  Again, we saw symbols of the divine masculine and feminine, as well as dedication to Mary Magdalene.

Nearby, on some small mountian peaks, sits the site of Lastours.  It is the site of three separate Cathar chateaux and a fourth castle built as a prize to the victors after the Cathar chateauxs were conquered.
Lastours

The view was breathtaking and the hike up to one of the towers was worth the effort on that particularly warm day. Most of the group chose to hike to Cabaret, the chateau originally owned by Etiennette du Pennautier, patroness of the troubadours and defender of the Cathars.
Cabaret (left)

There is one remaining tower that you can climb up from which to enjoy the spectacular vistas.  Many of us spent about an hour up there, singing and dancing, a fitting tribute to the woman who celebrated the arts, music and courtly love!
Me in the Cabaret Tower
Another busy day full of beauty, mystery, and the Divine.  Oh...and wine.  :)