Saturday, March 31, 2007

Madame Royale 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, embittered 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 blistering 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, who was 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.



SuzanneG said...

Elena~I wept at that part in Madame Royale. How haunting for her, yet she did what I only wish I would do when "overwhelmed" (although for much less serious reasons)....she went straight to the Blessed Mother. There is so much in this book that inspires us in our of the many reasons why it's so wonderful! Now that I've read the book, I appreciate your posts about these things even more. It's wonderful!

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you, Suzanne. I shed many tears while writing it.

Loraine said...

Beautiful, tragic story.