Saturday, May 3, 2008

Marie-Thérèse and Our Lady of Paris

Above is the medieval statue of Our Lady at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was before this statue that Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, the daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, fell to her knees during the Te Deum which celebrated the restoration of the surviving members of the royal family to France in May of 1814. As described in the novel Madame Royale, the long-exiled princess found a few moments of peace and consolation at the feet of the Virgin Mother.

What should have been an hour of triumph became mingled with agony, as the sight of Paris after twenty-two years reminded Marie-Thérèse of all the her family had endured during the Revolution, especially her little brother, driven out of his mind by his torturers. She did not even know at the time where her parents were buried. The acclaim of the crowd only brought to mind the insults of the mob which had filled her adolescent ears and henceforth frozen her mannerisms into a haughty stiffness. The people wondered why the princess in white did not smile. But in the house of God, there was peace.

Here is what the Notre Dame website says about the statue:

The 14th century statue of the Virgin and child is situated at the south-east pillar of the transept. This statue comes from the St Aignan chapel which is within the enclosure of the Canons (in the present Rue des Ursins).

Always surrounded with flowers, this elegant and life-like statue, known under the title of Our Lady of Paris, welcomes the faithful who pray in this atmosphere of peace and calm.

It was near to this statue that the poet Paul Claudel was converted during Vespers on Christmas day 1886.



stpius5 said...

+JMJ Just a word of gratitude for this blog-space(?). Was doing a search on the history of the statue of "Our Lady of Paris" which I purchased several months ago and am very happy with what I learned here. Also, much gratitude for the history of Maria Antoinette! God bless!

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, I am glad to be of help.

May said...

Interesting statue! Oddly enough, I am reading Claudel's play, (rather misleadingly) entitled "The Tidings Brought to Mary" at the moment.

tubbs said...

One of the most haunting experiences of my life was seeing that statue on the eve of New Years, 1971. It was illuminated by dozens of votive tapers (so common in Europe). Tearfully pleading in front of Our Lady's image was one of the most strikingly beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. Years later I saw who appeared to be that woman on a movie screen. I will never know for sure if the beautiful woman I saw in Notre Dame
was in fact, France's long-running (by title) 'Marianne'. I like to think so.

Jeanne said...

A hundred marriages at Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris):