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Seminarian in France. Day 1-Monday

Easter break is here, and it is time to get out and explore some more, I was looking to do some more discovery of Italy but, I was offered the chance to join the Aussie's from the NAC, who were planning to do a week in France, so I took them up on the offer.

An early morning flight out of Rome and I was in Paris where I met up with the other guys Fr Bijoy, Deacon Richard and Stephen the seminarian. We had quick morning hot chocolate and croissant and we were on the road in a hire car off to our first stop Chartes.

About an hours drive west of Paris and we hit the small town of Chartres, but long before we got into the town two large spires could be seen on the horizon seaminly pocking out of a lush green paddock.

The Chartres Catherdral, is dedicated to Our Lady of Chartres, according to local legend extending back to the early Middle Ages this was a Holy site of veneration for early Christians in Roman times in a grotto of "the Virgin Mary about to give birth". The cathedral dates back to the 750's but has be destroyed by fire and vandal's a few times over the last century or so and has been rebuilt bigger and grander each time.

Main entrance door.

The church is of gothic style and is one of the biggest and best examples in Europe. The stain glass windows are a special feature and are of intricate detail, each window tells a story in the bible.

The rose at the entrance of the cathedral as seen from inside, depicts the last judgement Jesus is in the center window. This faces the west and gets the setting sun shining through it, unfortunately the weather was quite overcast and cold. The lower windows depict the incarnation of Christ and his life and death.

Higher windows on the southern side of the cathedral.

The nave with stained glass windows representing biblical characters form Noah to the prodigal son. It has a main statue behind the altar depicting the assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heven.

The choir screen that extends all around the back of the altar depicts the life of Christ from his grandparents to his assension. All hand carved and apparently it took over two haundred years to complete.

The main feature in the basilica is a shroud that was donated to the by Charlemagne's grandson in 876 AD. This shroud is said to be the shroud of The Blessed Virgin, it has been tested and dated to the first century AD, with material from the Middle East.

An icon of the Holy Shroud.

The best thing about having a priest on your trip is that you can have mass at you convenience. Fr Bijoy booked in advance to celebrate mass a Chartres Cathedral and they gave him the chapel in the lower cathedral situated under the main cathedral was the the main church around a thousand years ago.

Afterwards we continued our journey to our accomodation in a B&B in the Normandy countryside.

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