Saturday, June 16, 2012

From an American Patriot's perspective


A Catholic upbringing is one of the many things Michele and I have in common which made it especially cozy when we went to Mass at Notre Dame the first morning of our visit.  It was good to experience that with someone who shared my background.  The expression "If walls could talk..."  takes on a new dimension when one tries to imagine being able to imagine what it would be like to imagine all that these walls have seen and heard.

Our sixth President recorded his impressions as a witness to the Te Deum sung at Notre Dame in thanks for the birth of the Duc de Normandie (Marie Antoinette's and Louis XVI's third born child, Louis-Charles) in his journal. Young John Quincy Adams, was present with his parents, John and Abigail, his sister, Nabby, and Thomas Jefferson, and described the crowds in the streets with these words:   "There was but just space sufficient for the carriages to pass along, and had there not been guards placed on both sides at a distance not greater than ten yards from one another, there would have been no passage at all for the coaches.  For as it was, the troops had the utmost difficulty to retrain the mob."  Impressed by the spectacle, Jefferson speculated to Nabby that there were as many people in the streets as in all of Massachusetts.  Once in the cathedral, the group watched the ceremony from a gallery overlooking the choir, "as good a place as any in the church", thanks to Madame Lafayette whose husband had played such an important role in the successful American Revolution.    John Quincy Adams' description, as written in his journal: "...Parliament lined up on the right side of the choir, robed in scarlet and black, the Chambres de Comptes on the left, in robes of black and white;  the bishops arriving two by two, "a purple kind of mantle over their shoulders," the Archbishop of Paris, "a mitre upon his head," and finally the arrival of the King: "…and as soon as his Majesty had got to his place and fallen upon his knees, they began to sing the Te Deum, which lasted half an hour, and in which we heard some exceeding fine music….  What a charming sight:  an absolute king of one of the most powerful empires on earth, and perhaps a thousand personages of that empire, adoring the divinity who created them and acknowledging that He can in a moment reduce them to the dust from which they spring."  The Adams' family (not to be confused with the Adams' Family) must've looked down upon these magnificent chandeliers or, rather, something similar, yet candlelit.

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