Today our journey returned to a more normal agenda, journeying to visit a village and abbey, both of which date back to the medieval ages. To reach the village of Lagrasse, we had to first drive north through the area of Carcassonne, which was one of the areas most impacted by the flash flooding. The scenes of devastation we observed were jarring and heartbreaking. While the waters have receded, what has been left in their place clearly has reshaped landscapes and damaged so many lives. We spent this day in and out of rain, at times heavy; we did not experience any flooding again, but the memories are so fresh one couldn’t help but be concerned. We’re hopeful for sunshine tomorrow.
Our bus driver, Bruno, whom everyone has enjoyed as a companion during our pilgrimage, put all of his driving skills and geographical knowledge to the test. To reach the village of Lagrasse, Bruno had to follow a number of detours due to road closures, and we received an additional gift of seeing the most rural and beautiful landscapes as he wound his way through hills and valleys on roads better fit for farm tractors than small buses. As he’s done throughout, Bruno came through and . Lagrasse is a rural village of about 600 residents, and the village’s origins date back to the 8th century, when “L’Abbaye de Lagrasse” was chartered in 789 A regret for the day was due to the delayed arrival and rains, as we were not able to visit the abbey, which I suspect would have been wonderful. Perhaps another time.
As for the village of Lagrasse, its origins coincide with those of the abbey, and as we walked through its intimate streets, it was easy to let the imagination take over. In addition to its small homes, the village contains many markets. Unfortunately, on this rain soaked day in mid-October, which is the beginning of the “off-season” for tourists, most of the markets and artisans were not open. Nonetheless, we walked into the center of the village and stepped out of the rain under the shelter of the open-walled, “The Hall,” dating to the early 1300s and today where the locals gather to sell their goods throughout the year. When the rain eased, we made our way to Lagrasse’s famous “donkey” bridge, spanning the Orbieu river. Also dating to early 1300, the stone bridge offers wonderful views of the village and the abbey in the distance. Walking onto and across the bridge was a moving experience.
日本一本道a不卡免费Our time in Lagrasse concluded with lunch at the Hostellerie des Corbieres. This was a special experience, as it is the place where each summer the faculty, staff, and students from our Dominican colleges gather for a . The food and atmosphere were simply a joy. Delicious. The warmth of the owners, chef and hostess, was palpable, and their young daughters’ brought smiles to everyone.
From Lagrasse, we made the drive to . The abbey was originally chartered in the late 11th century, initially for Benedictine and then soon thereafter Cistercian monks, with construction beginning in early 12th century. It is without question a most beautiful and spiritual place to visit. Sitting on nearly 5,000 acres, the abbey buildings are sprawling. Most of the original buildings, Romanesque in style and reflective of the austerity of the Cistercian monks, date to the 12th and 13th centuries, including the church, cloister, and the chapter house, with the cloister vault, dormitories, and most remaining buildings being of the Gothic architecture style. that struck much of Europe took its toll on the abbey and monks in the mid-late 14th century, and the number of monks at the abbey went from a reputed 200 plus at one time to less than 30 survivors after the plague. In the years that followed, throughout the 15th century through pre-French revolutionary war in the late 18th century, the monks at the abbey grew in number, but their way of life evolved, moving far from Cistercian austerity to include eating meat, chocolate, and supposedly, playing billiards. The French Revolution, which prohibited monastic life, in effect closed the abbey until 12 Senanque monks reoccupied the abbey in 1848, remaining there until the French separation of church and state in the early 20th century. The abbey was privately purchased thereafter, and it remains today within the family heirs as an historical site for visitors.
We walked through the grounds and buildings of the abbey, again as a group sharing the experience. While in the abbey’s church, beautiful and dark, nearly seven stories high, we again were called to sing the Dominican blessing. The sound of our voices in that historic, spiritual place was yet another moment of a deep feeling of presence and awareness of our Catholic, Dominican heritage.
Tomorrow is our final full day together. We are going to drive south to the Mediterranean seaside village of Collioure. Like every moment of this journey, that experience too will be a first for me. I look forward to seeing a new town and sea, but I already am finding it hard to believe our journey is nearing completion.
President Marc M. Camille, Ed.D., will write regular reflections during his week-long pilgrimage to Fanjeaux, France, with other Dominican college presidents. Fanjeaux is the area where, eight centuries ago, the Dominican Order was founded by Dominic de Guzmán, or St. Dominic as he is known today. This pilgrimage is a unique opportunity to visit and experience a number of the historical sites where St. Dominic spent considerable time leading up to and after the founding of the Order.