Strasbourg- September- Remember

August 31, 2010 at 8:33 pm 7 comments

Strasbourg Cathedral 1574

I cannot believe that it was 2 years ago we took “THAT” trip- It was supposed to be to give a break from the stress of finding my son had the “curable cancer’ He was finishing up treatment – all prognosis was wonderful- so in order to celebrate a special anniversary – birthday, on September 1st 2008 we made our way across the Atlantic.

As it turned out it was the trip from hell and when we returned of course another hell awaited . BUT as we dealt with the “trip” I had every intention of writing about the disasters, the rip- offs to warn fellow travelers to beware.

At one point we ended up in the same little hotel twice in Strasbourg- although it wasn’t planned that way.
This small hotel at the very door to the cathedral was named after Cardinal De Rohan

The only drawback was being that close to the cathedral bells you were in for a rude awakening.

Whilst Nikki caught up on some sleep my husband and I went to the cathedral. I have been in cathedrals before, admired the architecture but this tour was a little different .

A child of my son’s (very new) extended family had been killed in an accident. There was nothing we could do being trapped in Strasbourg due to the misfortunes of a Rhine River Cruise and a fire in the “Channel Tunnel”.

I felt I should do something though and so we went to the cathedral to light a candle as the family were devout Roman Catholic and to purchase a rosary for my then daughter in law. I thought perhaps it might bring some solace to the child’s mother seeing they were of this faith to know he was remembered here in this great cathedral and a little candle burned in his memory.

There has been a cathedral on the site since the 7th century

It is known that a cathedral was erected by the bishop Saint Arbogast of the Strasbourg diocese at the end of the seventh century, on the base of a temple dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but nothing remains of it today.

I am not very religious or at least into organized religion but the place was awe-inspiring. I had many thoughts as I wandered around the great spaces filled with light and opulence some of which can be found here.

However, one of the thoughts that struck me and bubbled to the top of my cynical brain as I stood there in the 21st century , bathed in light, gold sparkling on painted faces of saints, aromas sweet, flowers and beautiful music of the bells and in total awe of the people who built such a place.

A poem described this cathedral decorated with gold and precious stones by the bishop Ratho

What must this wonder of wonders must looked like to the peasants who lived in hovels of mud and straw, windowless with no light, earthen floors down by a canal filled with offal and stench , the stink of disease and darkness that filled their lives, beauty glimpsed but rarely in such an existence?

Can you imagine what it must have been like to lift your eyes to this monument to heaven, to escape the slavery and chains of your life for just a brief while within the cathedral’s confines?

Can you imagine hearing the musical chants, the sound of powerful music ringing across the countryside, to smell smells so sweet , to breathe air not filled with swine , fish , sweat, rottenness , decay and disease, to be bathed in a light full of grace and colour? It must have seemed like heaven to be allowed to enter such a place of delights.

Is it any wonder men of religions , from the Egyptians ,

the Greeks, the Romans , the Christians ,

the Muslims, Hindus etc. build such edifices to the Gods they worship ?

The edifices that inspire awe and draw the congregation and bring a world that is not of the peasant’s world or understanding .

And this world certainly isn’t of my understanding either because for all the beauty found in such surroundings a mother’s simple question


rings unanswered through the great cavernous spaces .

It is a cry that needs no vaulted ceilings echoing back , it is a cry sent to the night sky and the tree tops and apart from the platitudes of men with their sweet music, incense, gold and creations of stone – no answer comes back to the mothers whose cries are heard ringing through the centuries .


A world that is for us, the mothers who grieve ,full of pain , bewilderment and the unanswered question- a simple question asked –


A growing childs question as he/she explores the world.


The stone walls , though beautiful, remain mute , the painted images look down with unseeing eyes. Only the gargoyles laugh, pulling their ugly faces at the joke of it all, sputter and spew as the rain full of tears drops to earth- they grimace with silent mirth at our peasant’s lot here on earth.


Entry filed under: Brit take, personal opinion, religion, The Trip, travel. Tags: , .

You say Tomato -I say HOW BIG???? “Remember the kind of September”- Chris Ritchey

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Grammy  |  September 1, 2010 at 9:12 am

    It’s amazing that with all the spirituality we have in our world, there is no answer to WHY? There is only coping.

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  September 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Grammy one of those questions I asked Dr. Long in the back and beyond..always had more faith in science than in “religion” it seems….I asked him to explain how it was that in science we were learning ( remember iI was nine) that we evolved through the sea and crawling out onto land… so how did he explain that the Bible said Adam and Eve etc. I remember him smiling and saying ” well look at it this way little one ( that is what he always called me ) someone made those creatures of the sea and I like to think it was God” that satisfied me for awhile

    I have to say though science as opposed to religion always made much more sense to me.There is always a cause and effect in the sciences there is always a reason but with religion you have to take things on faith ….and at the moment that isn’t good enough for me…The reason being illusive for so many things…why millions have to die because their faith was different from others throughout the centuries why it stil happens……. I a m definitely leaning on the side of physics and all things chemistry and mathematical ….. but am open minded I just want someone to tell me Why ? such things happens in the name of faith …….

  • 3. Grammy  |  September 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    I wish I could help with an answer, for both of us and others! I carry a WHY? from 1956 and can’t get rid of it. (besides the new Why’s) Maybe the believeing just in the “name of faith” is a way to rationalize for us humans those things we cannot explain.

    Hang in there,

  • 4. thatwoman  |  September 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I think we as humans are somewhat like children ourselves needing a great power ( like mum and dad) when we are growing up… I don’t think we lose that need….We need to have someone in charge or someone to turn to ….. as the caveman sat huddled and fire rained from the sky and brought fire to his hearth … wonderful that must have been .. and quite frankly in times of great worry it would be lovely to know that there is a chance however remote that something can intercede on your behalf….to protect you and yours……

    Lots of controversy today with regard to the Big Bang theory.

    and lets us admit it even the most doubtful of us when time of crisis happens we “pray ” don’t we ….just in case…..

    I did …. my prayers they weren’t answered but then again I could understand seeing as I was a doubting thomas why this God may have said no to me .

    BUT there were thousands upon thousands ( whole churches in Scotland , the UK and even in Lorain ( churches of people praying for Chris all denominations….. good people of faith …….so why weren’t their prayers answered….what lessons were they expected to learn from the death of my son???? I had so many vials of holy water from Lourdes sent to me and pilgramges made actually that I could have opened a concession stand….I am not making light of this but what good did any of that do.

    Heck I even have a Cardinal praying for me at the Vatican for my peace of mind…… not happening……. but maybe I am supposed to be punished for some great wrong I committed Ok but then why punish my daughter, my husband my mother… even Chris himself .I KNOW they have never done anyone or anything wrong…

    I don’t know and only “men and women” of faith can explain with their greater scheme God’s will but since they haven’t been across the divide they too are going on hearsay and books written by men….and we all know how stories twist and turn even in my own recent happenings

    …….who knows I don’t but I will tell you I have no fear of death ………

  • 5. dave cotton  |  September 3, 2010 at 4:57 am

    It is one of the great questions that all religions seek to answer -who are we? why are we here? where do we go when we leave? Why do bad things happen to good people?

    In my opinion all religions fail to answer these. . .

  • 6. thatwoman  |  September 3, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die: /

  • […] I was speaking to another who grieves , who like me is distanced from absolute faith/organized religion and who shares the questioning as to WHY? […]

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August 2010

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