Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Jumelage avec Notre Dame

The Westminster chaplains yesterday embraced fraternite' as we travelled to Paris to meet our conterparts at Notre Dame. Our French hosts were very welcoming, the archiprêtre (my oppostie number) even ensuring at Mass that the Organ played Vierne's Carillon de Westminster, based on the chimes of Big Ben!

Follwing a most enjoyable lunch, at which I managed to dredge up my O-level French to make a speech, and where some fine Frnech wine overcame any difficulties in communication, we were given a spectacular tour of the Cathedral. Above is the view of the nave from the organ gallery, and below the magnificent organ itself. The post of organist at Notre Dame is considered the most presigious in all France.

The galleries used to be used as a refuge for pilgrims on the route to Santiago de Compostela.

The flying buttresses, and the view from the rooves, are breathtaking, and Père Norbert proved an enthusiastic guide.

Père Norbert did not fail to point out to us his own appartment, seen behind him in the picture below.

The interior of the bell towers was fascinating; a double arcade strengthens the walls, while a wooden structure supports the great bell (le bourdon) - not touching the stone walls, to allow for vibration as the bell is tolled. The wooden beams you see below are medieval.

We were fortunate to be taken into the heart of the great building, to view areas usually unseen by the public.

Above all, it was fascinating to meet the chaplains of Notre Dame and to compare notes. In France, the state owns the building, and pays for its upkeep, but grants use of it to the Roman Catholic Church. Even the musicans are paid by the State. It is hard to imagine such a situation, continually weighed down as we are in England by the need to find our own funds for the Cathedral building and music. Yet, our self-sufficiency also grants us freedom; there is a certain amount of the 'dead hand of the State', that prevents the archiprêtre of the Cathedral from developing its resounrces as he would wish.

There were areas of common concern - security, disabled access, tourism. Interestingly, the staff at Notre Dame have begun to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, recognising that many visitors will pass through Paris.

We are seen below, together with some of the chaplains of Notre Dame, outside the house of the archiprêtre Mgr Patrick Jacquin, who is seen just to the right of the doorway below. Sadly, the noise of the city centre has driven the archiprêtre from the house, and he lives in quiter surroundings nearby. The meeting was a great success; our French colleagues complemented us on the intiative, and expressed a desire to visit London to hold a clergy conference at Westminster. Perhaps this marks the beginning of a jumelage between the two great Cathedrals!
As an afterthought, I much prefer the title archiprêtre to my own of 'Administrator'. Having resisted the moves to change the title to Dean, as being inappropriate, I could certainly be content to be an archpriest. Such is the title of the rectors of European Cathedrals, and there is even a history of the use of the title in the English post-reformation Church. However, I am uncertain how the title falls on English ears, and so will remain an Administrator, a title borne proudly by my predecessors for over 100 years.


Ttony said...

(Don't publish if you don't want to - my pedantry shouldn't take away from a fascinating post.)

"Roofs" according to the Shorter Oxford.

Why not Archpriest? It is a title of great honour and tradition.

Mark Langham said...

Even Homer nods...

Anonymous said...

I am writing a book about a medieval Jacobean pilgrim to Santiago who begins his jounrey in Paris. i was interested to read that the galleries of Notre Dame were used to house pilgrims to Santiago. Please can you tell me form what year they were given vrefuge? Many thanks. Sil

Anonymous said...

I was just thinknig yesterday that Administrator sounds so ... administrative. Archpriest wopuld be an excellent choice. I don't think that 100 years coubts as 'from time immemorial.'

I note that you are all in 'civvies'. is that for self-protection?

Interestingly, a priest in Brighton was writing recently about how he diecded to venture forth dressed in a cassock. When he wore the dog-collar and black suit he found that he was ignored, and frequently the object of jeers and insults. On wearing the cassock, however, he found that people smiled at him and approached him: even on a crowded London-bound train. it's food for thought if nothing else.

Hey, you might even consider waering a low Roman hat - very Fr Brown!

Anonymous said...

As always, thank you for the spectacular pictures that provide a unique perspective. I especially enjoyed the interior of the bell tower and learning about the special construction of the wood frame that supports the bell. Interesting, too, that the Cathedral used to house pilgrims to Santiago.

My pastor, sometimes, refers to me as "archmusicminister". in fact, this is the name he has put on the computer to the archdiocese, so that all mail sent to me from the chancery comes with that title above my name on the address. I can only imagine what the postmans must think.

Mark Langham said...

Dear St Columba, the sub-administrator here, in his role as buyer and pourer of wine at meals, is known by the title 'architriclinus' (John 2:9)

Anonymous said...

Father langham, since we can't see your photo on your profile, at least reveal to us which one you are on the paris photos!! I like to put a face to ablogger ...

Anonymous said...

John 2:9

Ah, you made me look it up!

"ut autem gustavit architriclinus aquam vinum factam et non sciebat unde esset ministri autem sciebant qui haurierant aquam vocat sponsum architriclinus..."

Mark Langham said...

Dear Anonymous
I hesitate to declare myself, as I want this blog to be about the Cathedral, not me! However, I'm in the middle in the loud red jacket. You can see the College of Chaplains in all its glory on the Cathedral website http://www.westminstercathedral.org.uk/clife/clife_college.html

orielensis said...

Ha Ha! Architriclinus is the name given to the Sub-Administrator??!!

How wonderful. Like me, Fr Christopher certainly likes his wine, and won't mind me saying so!

Anonymous said...

ND is a fascinating building hich has benifited from an imginative recent re-ordering of the nave sanctuary. What they hav not cracked is how to cope with the volume of visitors and any ambience mystique during Sunday Mass is disturbed by the noise of visitors trailing round taking photos. Did you spot the monument in English near the nave sanctuary dedicated to the contribution of British forces during the war?