Accounts by Mr. A. Dufour of Thuillerie de Caen and Father AC Hamel, copied by Céline Martin.
Travel notes sent by Mr. de la Thuillerie former magistrate to the Journal "L'Avenir du Calvados"
Leaving Paris at 6/1 in the morning, 2 pilgrims met in the evening in Lucerne where they spent the night. The next day the train started again in rather poor weather.
Today, Thursday, perfect weather.
I no longer remember if I spoke to you about our stop at Lorette on Saturday evening; of the astonishing night spent in ordinary beds and rooms, even in the vestibules of inns, like yours truly.
Lorette, picturesquely seated on a hill dotted with already bare mulberry trees and olive trees which contrast with their ashy greenery on the rest of the vegetation scorched by autumn, dominates the plain of Castelfidardo, as well as a wide valley extending down to the sea between the hills of Loreto and another nipple that drops off the cliff into the Adriatic.
Picturesque this little town with the women in bizarre and brilliant costumes; Also picturesque is the crossing of the Apennines that we make on Sunday, always by our special train which disembarks us in the evening in Rome.
Since then we have been transformed into wanderers and divided into 4 or 5 groups of about forty people, sometimes on foot, more often in cars, we visit relentlessly.
Today (Friday, Nov. 18) the sun has set a little and, from the lodges of the Vatican that we were visiting, we could finally see, in its beautiful aspect, the countryside of Rome and the graceful mountains of Sabina and Lazio.
Today Mass and Vespers in St Pierre for the Feast of the Dedication. Wonderful songs and superb voices, always living up to their reputation.
...Alas! we are in the process of modernizing Rome to make it a great capital. As for the costumes once so proudly worn by the Contadini and the Trantiverni, you only see them now in the paint shops.
The majority of pilgrims leave Monday morning for a two-day excursion to Naples.
Rome November 20
This morning we had the good fortune to have an audience with the Holy Father. After having attended his Mass, at the same time as pilgrims from the Diocese of Nantes, we, diocesans of Bayeux and Coutances, were able to pass one after the other in front of the Sovereign-Pontiff, who held out his hand to us to kiss.
Each was named and presented by the Bishop of Coutances for Manche, or by Father Révérony for Calvados. The Holy Father, surrounded by Mgr Germain, Mgr Lecoq, MM; Legoux, vicar of Coutances, and Révérony, vicar general of Bayeux, found some benevolent word for all, in giving his blessing.
Mr. Benoît offered the printed volume, to be sent to the Pope, by the typographers of the Christian Association of Caen and obtained for our works a particular blessing and encouragement.
All morning, torrents of water fell.
Genoa. Sunday evening Nov 27. Here we are at our last stop in Italy. We left Rome last Thursday morning to arrive to sleep in Florence, after stopping for 2 or 3 hours in Assisi (3 km from the station) where we visited the church filled with memories of St. Francis. This ogival church is triple: crypt, lower church and upper church. In the crypt, relics of the saint that we were able to venerate.
After which we went to pray at the tomb of St Clare in the church dedicated to her. From the terrace of the convent, of which the Church of St. Francis is only an annex, there is, it seems, a marvelous view; I say, "apparently", because by the good pleasure of the government, the convent is now secularized, that is to say, confiscated and closed to the public.
Fortunately, from the forecourt of the Ste Claire church, you can almost take revenge and the view is admirable. Very picturesque, this small town of Assisi, coquettishly encamped on a corner of a hill speckled with olive trees. Thus, moreover, are grouped almost all the small towns of this region of the Apennines, crowning some mound of verdure, or huddled in a mountain slope.
Coming down from Assisi and, before getting on the wagon, visit St. Maria-degli-Angeli, near the station, where everyone wants to go and pray in the small house of the Portiuncula now transformed into a chapel and occupying the center of the church.
The weather was fine and clear that day; but unfortunately ! what a tomorrow! Friday in Florence; torrential rain from morning to evening. So the impression left by this charming town would have been far from the truth if yesterday morning, as a result of one of those abrupt changes of weather frequent in southern countries, the sky had not cleared up, and it is with regret that everyone left, around 4 a.m., Florence, the city of the arts, saluting one last time, from the doors of the carriage, Ste Marie des Fleurs, its cupola with such pure lines, its admirable campanile and the high tower of the old castle.
In the evening we were in Pisa for dinner. This morning, visit to the old marble cathedral, to the
Baptistery, with the leaning tower which has held firm for more than six centuries, and quickly on the way to Genoa.
A very fine road from Pisa to Genoa, on a cornice over the sea; but it would be much more beautiful if it crossed fewer underground passages. Barely, between two galleries, do you have time to admire a glimpse of the sea bathing the foot of the rocky promontories or to cast a glance, on the opposite side, at a small town squeezed between two covered slopes olive trees, orange trees and aloe hedges.
...Did I tell you about the Sunday morning spent in Pisa and our arrival in Genoa the same evening? Walk in the new districts, in the middle of the graceful dwellings built for a few years on the heights dominating this old city, in the middle of beautiful gardens forming a terrace, from where the view is admirable.
After lunch, boarding for Nice, where we must arrive for dinner at 6 am.
The sky, at first a little hazy, then became admirably pure, showing us from Genoa and Nice, between the innumerable underground passages of the line, ravishing sites and a truly Mediterranean sunset; then, from Nice to Marseilles, the most delightful views of the bay of Nice, of Antibes, of Cannes, of Saint Raphael.
Alas! the weather darkening again, we had of the dazzling panorama of ND de la Garde only a very beautiful aspect still, but incomplete, in the absence of a cloudless sky, companions necessary there more than everywhere else.
Our prayers to the Good Mother, for France which has such great need of her protection, were no less fervent during the blessing which was given to us, preceded by a few words of circumstance pronounced warmly by Bishop de Coutances.
From Marseilles, bad weather and increasing cold since this morning until our arrival in Lyon by pouring rain. We are still determined to climb tomorrow morning to Fourvières before lunch followed immediately by the last departure for Paris. The arrival in Paris is fixed at midnight 25.
Excerpts from the "Bayeux Indicator" by Father AC Hamel pro-secretary of the Bishopric
Memories of the trip to Rome in November 1887
Yesterday in Paris, all 200 pilgrims, we were exact. At 6 o'clock we are at the Gare de l'Est. The station is large, the day is not up. Also, we are looking. Finally, we are shown the room: “from Paris to Mulhouse”. We are assembled and we have our circular ticket.
The call: "In wagon" rings out. We are climbing . We are eight per car, even in second class (There were only 7 of us in our carriage: Father Moulin, curate of St Désir de Lisieux – Mr Gosset – Mr and Mrs Besnard – Mr Louis Martin – Miss Thérèse and Céline Martin; all from Lisieux)
the 1er serious stop must take place in Basel. We must therefore think about the midday meal. The Lubin agency provided for this. We will have lunch in the wagon. – We each receive a paper bag which, tied with a string. Here is the inventory of the bag: half bottle of wine, lamb, chicken, cheese, a pear, bread, a paper cone containing salt.
We stop at Vesoul, just long enough to walk the main street and visit the main churches.
Here we are at the Swiss border. Delle is the last French station.
At 8 o'clock we arrive in Basel.
At 9 o'clock. ½, we get into the wagon. The State wagons abandon us and we find ourselves prepared to receive Swiss wagons. – Very comfortable, these Swiss wagons with three compartments per car for 24 people each, with a path allowing you to move from one compartment to another.
Lucerne - 1 a.m. Time to run to his hotel. All Bayeux pilgrims are at the Hotel du Lac: next to the station, the windows overlook the lake, electricity is on all floors, magnificent rooms, even on the third.
At 6 o'clock, you have to get up quickly, have lunch, go if you want, visit the famous lion of Lucerne and run to the station. On the way to Milan.
Needless to describe Switzerland... from 7 o'clock in the morning until 5 o'clock in the evening, we enjoyed the marvelous spectacle of this great nature.
What about Lugano bathed by its lake...
We are in Italy, here is Chiasso. There the inseparable troubles of the customs, one hears the cry: "Fortenza". You have to get out, get your bags down, open them... and a dozen men sprung out for 30 minutes.
We are in Milan – Tomorrow we are visiting Milan and going to sleep in Venice.
Milan The station is monumental, lit by electric light, cars are waiting for us and take us to our respective hotels. After our evening meal, we visit the gallery of Victor-Emmanuel, lit by electricity. It is a glazed gallery, forming a cross with a dome in the middle. She is 50m. high under the dome, 32 m. in the other parts, width 14 m. The appearance of this gallery is magical: adorned with statues of great men who must be surprised to find themselves next to each other: Savonarola, Cavour, Visconti, Raphael and Dante, with his dark face, etc.
On either side are shops, cafes, bookstores, etc. They watch us pass: francesi, French people, they turn around to see us better!
The next day: visit to the cathedral. Its exterior appearance is admirable. It is the largest religious building built in marble.
The number of statues amounts to 6,000. All are executed with a remarkable finish. Even the smallest bas-reliefs placed at the top of the Dome, which have little chance of being seen, placed as they are in the exterior galleries, are true masterpieces.
Inside, the vaults are high, one would believe to see a lace of stones, but in reality, they are paintings which simulate rosettes and the vault is united and not sculpted.
We are in the octave of St Charles, patron saint of Milan. The Saint's body is on display in the crypt. The face is blackened by the years and noticeably deformed by death. The body is covered with magnificent papal vestments.
All stop in front of the statue of St Barthélemy flayed. It's admirably accurate. The flesh and the veins appear denuded, the skin torn and rejected like a coat and the face falls to mid-body.
We climb the Dome. You reach the top by 484 steps. The point of view is above all expression.
The needles crowned with statues, the arcades adorned with all the flowers of creation seem like an immense garden.
The exterior galleries, covered in marble, can hold 30.000 people
In the distance, we discover the mountains, the lake and the city of Lugano. It's wonderful!
Campo Santo – This is the name of the cemetery.
At the entrance is a huge monument in the shape of a cross; in the center, a dome, above the dome, statues or frames bearing the names of illustrious men. Under the dome, vaults intended to receive the bodies of the great men of Milan.
On the left, in one wing, we see tombs with statues which are true masterpieces. Here, it is a mother holding her child and half-opening the door of a vault where the body of her husband is.
There, the epic of another mother who has lost her husband, lives only for her son, and sees this son taken away from his love. She succumbs to the pain and flies up to the sky. Then she sees coming to meet her those whom she has mourned so much and so faithfully loved. This drama in three scenes, tears tears.
On the right is the quarter reserved for Jews. We descend into the cemetery. Yes, it is indeed the poetry of death! What admirable marble statues! We see a young widow depositing, on the tomb of her husband of a few days, her clothes of joy. She now has the severe habit of widows, her mantilla seems to be real lace, and it is marble!
Then, this young girl left alone: a wall, death, separates her from her father and her mother, and the survivor piously throws flowers, her prayers, towards those who are no more. – And this other one whose clenched fingers dig into her chest: the illusion is complete. It looks like a fabric, it's a work of marble!
It seems that, under the scissors of these artists, the marble softens, becomes human, so much does it lend itself to expressing the anguish of these tearful women. How could one pass, without stopping there for a moment, in front of the column on which stands a child, a little angel taken from the earth early and whose cute hand sends a gracious kiss to those who mourn him...
Saint Ambrose. - The Church is interesting for its seniority. We see a crown of porphyry supporting the serpent of bronze. This would be, according to legend, the serpent that Moses raised in the desert. It is a harmless little snake with stiff forms.
We must leave. At the station, a large crowd came to see the French pilgrims. We are stared at.
Venice We arrive in the famous city of Venice by a long viaduct of several kilometers and thrown on the Adriatic.
Forty gondolas await us. The gondola is a tapered boat at the front and back, about ten meters long. Both ends are bridged. At the back stands the gondolier. He steers his fast boat with an oar. Nothing is as curious as the cry of gondoliers mutually warning each other of their approach, to prevent two boats from colliding in the narrow labyrinth where they are heading in all directions. In the middle of the gondola two seats, which can be covered with a roof, in the evening and when the rain falls. The gondola is entirely black: its hull is black, its seats are black, and the roof is veiled with a black curtain. It looks like a long coffin floating on the waves.
This dark color dates from the Republic. In the past, the gondoliers adorned their gondolas, thus the richest attracted customers to them, the poor starved to death. The Republic decreed that all gondolas would be the same. Since then, all the gondolas took on this gloomy color, which has been faithfully preserved. This is the explanation given to us by our gondolier. Doesn't the black gondola have its poetic motif? It stands out marvelously on the azure waves of the Adriatic.
Venice is built on a series of islets. In this strange city, the omnibuses are steamboats, the cabs are gondolas. Many Venetians have only seen the bronze horses of St Mark. Currently there are 3 horses in Venice. They are respectfully kept in the Jardin des Plantes as a curiosity, as in Paris, in the Jardin des Plantes, bears, lions or tigers are kept. But these happy idlers are neither mounted nor harnessed. We don't know in Venice what a car is.
When we arrived, it was dark. We travel through the sometimes wide, sometimes narrow canals that lead us to the Hôtel de la Lune. In this hotel, everything bears the lunar coat of arms: the glasses, the plates, even the lumps of butter that are served to you at mealtimes.
On Thursday we visit Venice. We go down by small lanes pierced at the back of the houses. We see the market with its attractive array of vegetables, fruits, meats, fish...etc.
St Mark. – The interior is of a richness that approaches profusion: everywhere marbles, statues, paintings by the great Masters: ... Titian, Canova etc.
The Doge's Palace is a monument so grandiose, so rich, that we must give up describing it. You have to see the Halls of the Vote, of the Ambassadors, of the Council of Ten, the Senate with its golden ceiling, the walls covered with huge canvases representing the glories of Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic. Each painting is a marvel; it would take long pages to describe it.
But how closely horror touches these magnificences! This is the Hall of Judgment. then this other Room where three masked judges decided the fate of the accused. If he was condemned by these mysterious judges, he passed by the bridge of sighs; it was certain death. He descended into the underground dungeons at sea level, where air could not penetrate. One of these dungeons was located in a part where the water filtered through the walls. The water was rising, still rising. The dead man came slow or fast according to the energy or the forces of the condemned man. If he could stand, it was slow death; if not, the unfortunate, vanquished by weakness or by the horror of such an atrocious life, was drowned by the sea, gentler to him than the rigor of his judges.
On the side along the canal, at the lower part of the Bridge of Sighs, is a stone, the threshold of death. The victim was stretched out on the ground, the stone served as a block, the ax did its job; then, the blood flowed through a cobbled slit to three open holes in the channel. The body was thrown through a skylight into the sea.
Of what inexpressible anguish these dark places have been the mute witnesses! How many tears they saw flowing! What sighs – the last – they heard! only they could tell. We feel a pang of heart, an indescribable emotion at the sight of these horrible dungeons.
Around St Mark's Square are the galleries of the royal palace surrounded by columns. The eye is dazzled by the sight of the shops displaying the magnificent objects that make up the main trade of Venice: glass objects, charming statuettes in white marble, of infinite delicacy and inimitable perfection.
We must not forget the pigeons of St Marc. Between the innumerable columns of St. Mark's Square, on the proud lion of Venice, everywhere, on the statues of Saints and great men, we see pigeons. They have the right to freedom and even to insolence. Passers-by often realize this. The pigeon is sacred in Venice. Even a wealthy eccentric bequeathed an annuity intended for their food. All the monuments of Venice serve as their domicile. At the stroke of 2 o'clock, these faithful birds come running from all sides and receive the grain. For them, two hours is not just mealtime. On St Mark's Square you see merchants who offer you, for ten centimes, cones of corn. The pigeons recognize their friends and come to court them and take in their hands the grain bought for them. It would be a sacrilege to kill one of these birds; also they multiply ad infinitum.
We take a quick look at the palaces. In the evening, the gondoliers come to give an aubade under the windows of the hotels where the French pilgrims have stayed.
(Note from Céline: We climbed to the top of the Campanile de St Marc. Napoleon had done this ascent on horseback? The interior staircase is not, in fact, made up of steps, but of an inclined plane)
The next day, Friday, return to the station by steamer. Farewell Venice, farewell Queen of the Adriatic, once the free city. Your current fate is represented by the statue of Victor-Emmanuel. The King is on horseback, two huge bronze bas-reliefs showing on one side Venice free with her Queen of the Seas diadem; on the other side, chained Venice, whose sword is broken. Is this flattery against Victor-Emmanuel? or did the Venetian want to consider his past glories, to live on memories, and his defeats to mourn? Farewell, Venice, farewell, your palaces reflected in the waters, farewell to your gondolas; your memory will remain in our hearts, strange no doubt, but indelible.
Padua... also has the relics of St Luke and St Matthias the apostles, and one of the paintings of the "Madonna" from the brush of St Luke.
Bologna Huge crowd. All Bologna is at the station to see French pilgrims. In the evening, we visit the city. All the houses are surrounded by porticoes. Each street thus presents the aspect of a forest of columns.
Saturday, November 12
We venerated the relics of St Catherine of Bologna. The saint is seated in an armchair. His face, his hands are blackened by time. This saint was a musician, we keep her violin. She was a painter, we show her paintings. She wrote, we show one of her books.
Bologna also has the tomb of Saint Dominic, the illustrious founder of the Preaching Brothers.
We arrived in the evening at Lorette, where we venerated the august dwelling, witness of the theater of the Incarnation.
...The Venetian newspapers told us that an earthquake was felt during one of our nights spent in Milan. We didn't know.
Lorette - We are in Lorette. The city is built on top of a high hill. We find cars of all styles at the station. The best is not worth our carts. So we are shaken, thrown from right to left, according to the stones with which the road is blocked. It is to believe that the springs are unknown in this country.
We are happy. We had to stay all over the place. The beds are generally of a monumental width: real family beds, they can contain 3 or 4 people. We took possession of our rooms and went down to the Basilica to venerate the “Santa Casa”.
Sunday, November 13
On Sunday, Holy Mass was celebrated in the Santa Casa, by Bishop de Coutances.
The whole city of Lorette, the inhabitants of the neighboring villages had made an appointment to attend the masses of the French pilgrims.
Impossible to imagine the strangeness of this attendance at mass. Each of the faithful chooses his altar, and this altar belongs to the assistants as much and more than to the priest who celebrates. The steps, even the highest ones, are full and the priest has difficulty moving. Add to that a noisy and very demonstrative devotion: the Italians pray loudly, beat their breasts, cross themselves, kiss the chasuble. All these demonstrations astonish us, but it is done with such a good heart!
And the costumes, how strange they are! there all the men are draped in a cloak. The women have their heads covered with a long red scarf, their petticoats are red and, at the waist, they wear a white wool sweater, incredible thing, the crinoline banished from Paris, after having ravaged the provinces, went into exile. in Lorette. It took her time to make such a long journey, but she arrived, and we saw with amazement several crinolines strutting proudly in Lorette.
Monday November 14
Here is the order of our days: lunch at 9 o'clock, at 10 o'clock we visit the city until 9 o'clock in the evening.
In general, the churches of Rome are, outwardly, unmonumental and even very poor in appearance. The interior is of a richness of which we have no idea. Everywhere precious marbles, paintings by great masters. We must not forget that we are in the land of the arts.
Saint Agnes outside the walls. There lies the body of the saint with the sweet name and that of her Emerentienne.
Saint-Martial. – In the crypt, we see the prison of St Paul, the column where he was tied and the chains with which he was surrounded. It is from there that the great Apostle wrote: Verbum Dei non est alligatum, the word of God is not chained. The apostle proved the truth of this word by converting St Martial, his guardian, with all his family. We show the well where the Saint drew the water necessary for Baptism.
La Trinité des Monts, French church, built by France. One of the pilasters bears the escutcheon with the three fleur-de-lys of our kings. Nearby is the Villa Medici or the French Academy of Painting in Rome.
Capuchin Church, Place Barberini. The church has several magnificent canvases. We were taken down to the cemetery. It's scary and gloomy. Four underground rooms make up this unique cemetery in the world. There are stored the bones of two thousand monks. We see their skulls symmetrically arranged on top of each other. In the vaults, arabesques, chandeliers: they are bones. Some religious are lying in their monastic habits (or standing), the crucifix on their chest, waiting for the resurrection.
St André della-fratte. Conversion of Regensburg.
Tuesday, November 15
We visited the Forums of Trajan, Augustus and Nerva.
The Colosseum Grandiose Monument. Its ruins have a stamp of power, despite the ravages that time, barbarians and wealthy Roman families have wrought on this colossus. We have built with its stones fortresses and palaces and yet we are crushed at the sight of the immense blocks of stone which overhang at a prodigious height.
Memories of the past rose alive. Centuries ago in this arena gladiators tore each other apart, fierce beasts were fought to the delight of the people-king. They fell while saluting the imperial monster which made them die, others fell, it was our fathers in the faith. Their eyes did not seek the Emperor, they looked at the sky and saw descending on their heads the crown which martyrdom procures!
It seems that on our occasion several people were arrested. We didn't hear anything, yet our fairly large group drove around the city. A Rome newspaper finds us "good-looking" and regards us as "well-to-do" people.
Rome, Friday 18 November
St John Lateran is the Pope's Episcopal Church. It is there that the Sovereign Pontiffs come to take possession of their See. This Basilica is the first of the churches of Rome and of the world. Also, the clergy of the Lateran has preeminence over the clergy of other churches. is it necessary to recall that, since Henri IV the Sovereigns of France are, by right, canons of the Lateran. This tradition was kept until the Revolution. The Restoration restores the old usage. The Emperor Napoleon, Mac Mahon were reinstated in the privileges. And Mr. Grevy? We would have been curious to see the stall of our venerable President.
The relics of this church are of great wealth. Let us mention: the table on which Our Lord celebrated the Last Supper – the cup in which the poison was offered to St John – the blood of St Charles Borromeo: part of the chain of St John? brought from Ephesus to Rome; part of the purple garment which NS was dressed in derision.
The same basilica claims to have: the plate on which the soldiers played the clothes of the Savior - the ... (?) of the Samaritan woman; the cast column (?) of the Temple of Jerusalem, etc.
Next door, the baptistery built by Constantin and the chapel of St Jean Baptiste. In this chapel women cannot enter. So we can imagine how intrigued our visitors were! What must they have thought when they saw themselves excluded and condemned to stay at the door while we had our free entrances! We were able to satisfy their legitimate curiosity and teach them that the Italians act like this out of courtesy towards St Jean. He was beheaded because of a woman. We do not want to offend the Holy Precursor by the presence of those who are of the sex of Herodias.
Near the Basilica we see the 'scala santa', we enter the oratory called "Sancta Sanctorum". There we venerated the image of NS painted on wood, begun with St Luke and ending with the Angels.
St Paul outside the Walls, splendid church rebuilt by Leo XII and Pius IV. This church is one of the richest in the world. It has 5 naves separated by pink granite columns. Around the naves, magnificent mosaic medallions representing the Popes... The church is paved in marble. Under the High Altar half of the bodies of Saint Peter and Saint Paul are preserved. Above rises a baldachin supported by four porphyry columns.
On the Appian Way, we quickly see the church “Domine, quo vadis. »
Saint Pierre. – It would take a volume to describe this monument. Place St Pierre is vast and magnificent. The church appears in the distance with its colonnades, it looks like a medium-sized church. Come closer, the illusion continues. Climb the steps that lead to the facade, you still only have a suspicion, not the reality. Stand at the foot of one of the columns, how high do you get? Even at the top of the base, now look at the ridge, you're crushed.
To build the colossus it took 3 centuries, it took, to direct the works, geniuses like Bramante, Raphaël, Peruzzi, Michelangelo, Maderno.
Let's go inside. Everything is so well combined that one has the illusion of a medium-sized church. We can see two stoups supported by angel-children; measure them they have 2 meters. The length of the building is 187 m. the height of the great nave 45 m. ; width 25m. The cupola has 117 m. high to the Lantern Vault, and the top of the Cross is 133 m. 69. At the four corners of the cupola are the mosaic evangelists: they are seven meters high. St Luke's pen measures six feet. At the end of the apse, we see the pulpit of St Peter. This chair weighs 219.161 pounds.
Visit to the Vatican Museums. Sculptures of indescribable beauty. Paintings: it is enough to mention the ... of Raphaël, the paintings of the same, the Transfiguration, the last Communion of St Jérôme du Dominiquin.
Rome – Sunday 20 November.
This morning, we had the happiness of being received by the Holy Father.
We all kneel down and the Holy Father sprinkles the large audience with holy water. Then he kneels down and recites, in the Missal, the prayers of preparation for Mass. He is dressed in his pontifical vestments and begins the Holy Sacrifice.
The Pontiff's voice is broken, but he strongly articulates each syllable and we do not miss a word of the liturgical prayers. The attendance is too great, so the Sovereign Pontiff found it impossible to give Holy Communion. The pilgrims, warned the night before, had been able to take communion at the morning masses. The Sovereign Pontiff assisted on his knees, almost without leaning on the cushion placed in front of him, at a mass of thanksgiving celebrated by a prelate of his house. After this second Mass, the Holy Father retires.
Our hearing is about to begin. The pilgrims of Coutances are called. The Bishop of Coutances presents his diocesan people to the Holy Father. Our turn is coming. Father Révérony, delegated by Mgr de Bayeux, is the first to come forward.
The Holy Father is seated on a throne. Around him stand the French bishops whose names I have mentioned. After accomplishing as much as the narrowness of the apartment where the Pontiff receives us permits, Father Reverony addresses a few words to the Holy Father. It expresses the regrets of our bishop who was unable to be with His Holiness today and present to him the pilgrims of Bayeux. The Vicar General renews to the Holy Father the feelings of attachment, respect, veneration, of the bishop, of the chapter of the Cathedral Church, of the priests, of the religious communities, of the faithful of our diocese, and for all , he asks for a special blessing.
The Holy Father inquired with the greatest benevolence of our bishop and said a few affectionate words to him.
Father Révérony then offers the Holy Father the jubilee gift of the diocese of Bayeux. He presents it as a testimony of the love of the faithful of the diocese of Bayeux for the Sovereign Pontiff, all have contributed to this gift, which represents more than 6,000 working days. The Sovereign Pontiff took the ratchet himself: “Oh! I know something about it, he said, the newspapers talked about it a lot! He surveyed the work as a connoisseur, praising the delicacy of the execution, admiring the crests. M. Révérony introduced M. Lefébure of Paris, an artist and above all an excellent Christian. The Sovereign Pontiff said: “You are from Paris, and work? - The work, Most Holy Father was executed in Bayeux. During this dialogue, the Holy Father examined all the details of the ratchet. He turned to one of the attendants and said, “You will place him in a position of honor and under crystal. »
Rochet of Leo XIII
We read in the Rome newspaper "La Voce della Verita" the laudatory article which we are happy to reproduce :
Rome – Naples – November 21-22.
We leave Rome at 6 am, and we arrive in Pompeii at 1 am.
Pompeii. During the journey that separates the station of Pompeii from the ruins, the guide tells us the story of the cities engulfed by the eruptions of Vesuvius.
It suffices to recall that Pompeii, a city of 25 to 26.000 souls, was destroyed by an earthquake (63 years after Jesus Christ). Rebuilt in a short time, it was buried by an eruption of Vesuvius. The city remained buried under heaps of sand until 1512. By digging an aqueduct, one discovered the Forum and a Temple; later (1748) new discoveries. Under the French domination, the excavations were organized, and since then they have not been interrupted. Now most of the city is open to the sky.
We enter through the Marine gate, because once the sea bathed the walls of Pompeii. Now it is several kilometers away. We find the Museum. There are the only inhabitants of this funereal city. We see several molded corpses. They have preserved the last convulsions of pain in which death has seized them and fixed them forever. We see the skeletons of horses and other animals that have not been able to flee the fiery torrent; beautifully preserved fruits, pears, eggs, amphoras.
We follow the first street that comes to us. The streets are narrow and retain the rut they had when the chariot of the wealthy Diomedes last traversed them. These streets are lined with elevated sidewalks. When the water fell – as it falls when we visit Pompeii – the streets became a river. So, woe to the clumsy traveler who looked up, he stepped into puddles and got wet up to his knees. To avoid this inconvenience, we walked on the sidewalks and, from distance to distance, a large stone was thrown in the middle of the way and made it possible to cross the street from one side to the other.
The houses, the Temples are preserved. The houses are small, we see a people who lived outside. The baths appear with their paintings, still fresh despite the 18 centuries that have passed since the disasters. We see the shops of the oil and wine merchants, with the counters and the huge amphoras... in the marble. We admire the basins in beautiful white marble, the admirable mosaics. Here are the temples where there are still a few columns and statues, the theatre, the amphitheater with its tiers; in the middle the immense basin where naval battles took place. Here is the Stock Exchange where the Wilsons of that time fiddled with the values of time.
We successively walk through the streets that are rebuilt, bearing a name. The houses have their number. If the inhabitants could live again, they would easily find their homes. But no, we saw several of them at the entrance, they are in their stone shroud.
We cross the door of Herculaneum. The city walls are well preserved. It is there, if I am not mistaken, that the skeleton of the Roman functionary was found. The inhabitants, for the most part, had been able to flee; he, a victim of duty, had remained at his post and had died there.
The aisle of the tombs is lined with funerary monuments. We can read the names of those who sleep under the marble that the volcano could not rob them of. But happy was Diomedes and his family. Believing himself safe, he took refuge in his country house, near the walls of Pompeii; he shut himself up in his magnificent cellars, hoping that the eruption would be of short duration, but the plague foiled the combinations of Diomedes, and his corpse was found and the bodies of those who, with him, had sought salvation in the underground and vaulted cellars. These cellars are huge and could contain many amphorae of wine.
Pompeii, judging by the paintings on the walls, was a city of pleasure. Its fate was the same as that of Sodom. We emerge from the ruins of this unfortunate city. In the distance, we see Vesuvius with its eternal plume of white smoke. He seems to be contemplating his work, this volcano which was probably God's vigilante.
Naples The proverb says: see Naples and die. Naples, from the former Carthusian convent confiscated by the Revolution, offers an admirable view. At our feet, we see the big city, whose houses are built in an amphitheater, the sea surrounds it like an azure belt. The sun, a white sun illuminates it and makes it shine. Yes, Naples is admirable. We only spent one night in Naples and we got to know a scourge that we hadn't encountered before: I mean mosquitoes.
Tuesday evening, we left.
Rome, November 23
We are in Rome, we are packing our suitcases and tomorrow we are going to sleep in Florence.
Assisi – We left Rome yesterday at 6 o'clock. in the morning. At noon we saw Assisi. The city of Assisi is completely built on the sides of a mountain and dominated by the ruins of a fortified castle. From Assisi, we enjoy a magnificent view: at our feet a valley planted with olive trees, cut by the dry bed of a torrent. In the distance, mountains.
We first visit the churches erected in honor of St. Francis. These churches are three in number superimposed: first, the underground church. This is where St Francis rests. The body is locked up in a tomb near which lamps are constantly burning.
We successively visit the other two churches. The upper church is very beautiful and adorned with rich paintings. The Italian Revolution, following in the footsteps of the French Revolution, did not respect the memories attached to the cloisters, to the Franciscan churches of Assisi, and now these venerable places are national property.
Assisi also has the sanctuary where the relics of Saint Clare are venerated. We contemplated the face of the saint. Her body is perfectly preserved and, were it not for the black color that time has imprinted on the relics, it looks like the Saint died only yesterday.
Finally, we entered the famous Church of the Portiuncula. We see in the Basilica, the small chapel that St. Francis received from the Benedictines, all dilapidated, and which he restored with his own hands. It is to this chapel that the indulgence of the Portiuncula is attached. Also shown in the church is the room where St. Francis died. The cell is narrow and worthy of someone who had contracted a mystical marriage with poverty.
The Franciscan Fathers led us to the Rose Garden. One day, St. Francis, driven by his love for penance, rolls his bare shoulders on a clump of rosebushes, so that their thorns, penetrating into his body, make him suffer the torments of which his soul was insatiable. The rosebushes were dyed with the blood of St. Francis. Since then, they have lost their thorns and have retained spots on their leaves; they are the drops of the blood of Francis of Assisi. If you transplant one of these roses, it takes root, but soon the thorns grow back. Only in the mystical garden of penance do roses have no thorns.
We get back into the wagon and, at 10 o'clock, we arrive in Florence, after having skirted the beautiful Lake Trasimene, where Hannibal once made the Roman armies experience a bitter check.
Florence - is a beautiful city, with wide and well-paved streets. The inhabitants are not ragged like in the other Italian cities we visited.
We visited the Cathedral. The exterior appearance is magnificent. The monument is covered from top to bottom with marble of various colors and adorned with fresh paintings. But the interior does not respond to the promises of the exterior and one experiences a disappointment on penetrating under the cold vaults of an austerity which approaches destitution. The cupola is beautiful and decorated with frescoes.
Sainte-Croix is the Florentine Pantheon. There, we admired the tombs of the great men of Florence: Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo, the Bonaparte family, whose name appears in the golden book of Florence, has a chapel where several of its members are buried.
Florence has several inconceivably rich museums. Visiting these museums took up most of our time. But, as this time spent in the contemplation of masterpieces is not regretted! The Uffizi and Pitti Palace museums contain paintings by the greatest masters: Raphaël, André del Sorte, Carlo Dolci. You can see ancient statues, busts of the emperors of Rome. It is with great curiosity that we see the figures of Nero, Domitian, Augustus, Caracalla etc.
Also interesting, although less rich, the museum of St Marc. It is a former Dominican convent stolen by the Revolution. The cloisters, the refectory are painted by fra Angelico de Fiesole. Each cell has a painting by this angelic painter. We show the cell of St Antonin, several objects that belonged to him. To see again the cell of Savonarola, of which the Revolution made one of its martyrs and to which it erected a monument. The monk's cell still contains the desk on which Savonarola worked, the crucifix in front of which he prayed and, what I recommend to the Revolutionaries who insult the famous Dominican to paint it for one of their own, the hair shirt and the instruments of penance with which he chastened his body out of love for God.
Pisa November 27
We leave Florence and, at 4 o'clock in the evening, we arrive in Pisa. Pisa is a city called "dead", dead. She is not dead, but quiet. The streets are beautiful, the quays are gay, and the Arno rolls full brim in the middle of the city.
This morning (November 27) we visited the cathedral. It is a splendid monument inside and out. It is one of the few churches in Italy that we admired without restriction.
I'm not talking about the famous Leaning Tower, everyone knows it. It is marvelous to see this tower whose inclination is four meters, which seems to threaten ruin and which has defied time. Tonight we arrive in superb Genoa. It deserves its name, because it is a big and beautiful city. It will be impossible for me to write to you again, for we are leaving early tomorrow.