Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Oriflamme of Saint Denis

I found this article about the Oriflamme on Lion and the Cardinal. The Oriflamme was a special banner which the French people used in times of crisis in the Middle Ages. The article reminded me of the time my husband and I made our way to the Basilica of Saint Denis during a vacation in Paris about eight years ago. It is not in a great neighborhood and we were warned not to take the metro there at night.

The relics of Saint Denis the martyr are still in the gothic basilica, unlike those of most of the kings and queens of France who once shared his resting place. The royal tombs were rifled and the bodies tossed into a pit in 1793 during the French Revolution. We were able to see the vast, dark crypt where there were still acres of sarcophagi from dynasty after dynasty of Merovingians and Carolingians and Capets.

We also saw the tombs of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette; the little heart of the child whom the DNA says is their son Louis XVII is buried near them. Their oldest son, the Dauphin Louis-Joseph, and youngest daughter, Baby Sophie, were among the corpses the revolutionaries desecrated. Their oldest daughter, Marie-Therese, is buried in a monastery in Slovenia.

A replica of the Oriflamme was there; it was in a corner behind the high altar, a bit dusty, near a reliquary of the martyr for whom the church is named. Share

6 comments:

Jeffrey Smith said...

Slovenia? I hadn't known that. What's the story?

elena maria vidal said...

That's what Wikipedia says, although I thought I had read previously that it was in Croatia (which is what I put in my novel Madame Royale.) Anyway, the exile of the Bourbon family led them to anywhere that they were afforded a place to live, usually as guests of the Habsburgs.

wordsmith said...

Let's hope that someday the princess can be buried in the same place as her father and mother.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, let us hope so! She is with her husband, uncle and beloved niece and nephew but it would be nice if she could be in Saint Denis with her parents.

Elisa said...

I didn't make over to St. Denis while I was on study aboard in Paris during summer 2004. Whenever I get back to Paris, I hope to make it to St. Denis!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, Elisa, you must see it! Only please don't go by yourself or after dark!