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W a n d e r i n g s...N e a r & F a r

Burgundy, France—The Light of the World

During the middle ages, Burgundy was considered “a state within the state.” The Dukes of Valois, who were then in power, were great warriors and great lovers of the arts. From the countryside they had conquered, they imported their most renowned artists, to give Burgundy its heritage. Their castles were enormous and of great splendor. It actually made the King of France, Louis XIth, extremely envious and somewhat jealous.

This beautiful land of Burgundy, located in the eastern part of France, is synonymous with world-renowned wines such as: Maconnais and Beaujolais. Too many to mention and definitely enough variety for the most discriminating connoisseur.

Its excellent cuisine is rich in tradition. You must sample: Escargots in garlic butter, Coq au vin, Poulet de Bresse, the only chicken with absolute guarantee of its origin comparable to the one stamped on fine wines.

For dessert, try: Pears Belles Dijonnaises and Pain d’épice, a delightful honey cake. Overindulgence, is definitely a big problem! Ah…well!

Burgundy’s countryside is a luxuriant contrast of delightful surprises; on the bottom of its valleys, on the slopes of its hills, in the middle of its forests and along the intricacy of its rivers, it shelters architectural treasures of all kinds.

Let’s keep in mind that in the Middle Ages, mostly monks cultivated this powerful land. They planted and tended grapevines from which they made wines of incomparable bouquet, which today are still renowned throughout the world.

During Medieval times, the monks also built several Romanesque Abbeys, such as Fontenay, St. Philibert, Cluny and a few more. I will only mention those, as they made a tremendous impression on me, during my research visit to France:

Fontenay Abbey, through the sobriety of its perfect lines and the simplicity of its decor, represents the perfection of Romanesque art. It was founded in 1118. It’s setting is absolutely superb, in a quiet valley enclosed by woods of various trees, such as beech and fir. As of today, it is remarkably well preserved and in excellent condition.

St. Phil ber Abbey, one of the best preserved Romanesque Abbey. It’s positively massive in construction. Inside the structure, your eyes will not be able to miss the four feet thick pillars supporting the nave. The interior of the building gives an impression of light and spaciousness. You will also notice, that no effort was made for any form of decor. The only hint of frivolous attempt is the red and white stones inserted in the nave’s arches.

Cluny Abbey is one of the most prestigious Abbeys in the world. I was totally awed by it’s presence and the reverence that I felt when approaching the structure.

I have always been fascinated and extremely curious about castles, manors churches, and of course, abbeys. I fully enjoy researching their history in the hope to discover some mysterious facts, legends or myths, which have been perhaps, long ago forgotten.

After my exciting journey to Burgundy, searching for an unusual story, I finally found the object of my quest: The nine hundred years old Cluny Abbey.

The following is truth or myth; you decide...

The Light Of The World

The Abbey of Cluny founded in the tenth century, was then considered the biggest church in Europe, until the sixteenth century, when St. Peters was built in Rome.

The medieval Abbots of Cluny Abbey were as powerful as the Popes. In the year 1098, a pope born in Cluny, by the name of Urban II, declared that the Abbey was “ THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.”

One cannot help but wonder at “how and why” he came to this assertion, for today, Cluny stands in ruins... A sad reminder of human folly and grandeur!

Nonetheless, the ruins standing today, definitely suggest the size and opulence of this majestic Abbey. The bell tower of “L’eau Bénite” and the right arms of the two transepts remain.

When you visit this beautiful edifice, don’t miss “ The Farinier, ”a flourmill” with its chestnut roof. It is now a museum housing a magnificent collection of medieval statues. Not to be missed...

When you stroll through the gardens, the “Lime Tree” will captivate your attention—supposedly several hundred years old—No one seems to know!

It is said, that on a cold, crystal clear night, under a full moon, you will see the apparition of a monk, standing absolutely still under the limbs of the Lime Tree. In his hand, he holds a bright, burning torch. He is totally motionless and for a few minutes (is it seconds?) the ancient lime tree is illuminated, then he is gone...

I have never seen him nor tried to.
Is it the Abbott holding the Light of the World—do you think?

Is he the figment of one’s imagination?
I am not sure that I wish to find out...

—Maryvonne CM Martin
All rights reserved

Maryvonne Martin
Poetry Sharings Journal

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