Thursday, January 29, 2015

Saint's Miracles Highly Rated On Paris Trip Advisor~

Generations of Paris faithful know the secret. Now tourists on Trip Advisor Paris have voted it #14 out of 624 Paris attractions...with a collective 92% approval rating: (HERE

A Few Comments~

“Visit here! It's a lovely church -- but the story of St. Catherine is even more amazing. It's wonderful to see so many people visit her shrine.”

“In my travels I've been to many churches but this one felt very special, very holy.”

“It was so beautiful that when the mass finished I was crying like a child…”

“Amazing to see people from the whole world coming there to pray, with such confidence.”

“Beautiful! I feel very blessed to have celebrated a mass in the chapel where it all began back in 1830.” 

“This chapel is a saintly place in the heart of Paris. Must see for devotees of Our Lady of Grace. You won't believe how Holy it is.”

“The Chapelle de la Médaille Miraculeuse is the place to go to be blessed and feel good!! It is a place full of energy and enchantment!”

“It's an amazing discovery in Paris...the grace and the spirituality that you feel in the premises. It is a small place..with big miracles...”

In 1830 the Blessed Virgin Mary Saint Catherine Labouré at a chapel on rue du Bac, on the Left Bank, close to the Seine, the Sorbonne, the Musse d’Orsay, and the popular Bon Marche Market, equivalent to Whole Foods, and to request the creation of a Miraculous Medal. 

I know rue du Bac from staying at a boutique hotel on the narrow street for a couple of weeks. The body of Saint Louise de Marillac and the heart of St Vincent de Paul, founders of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, are also there. St Catherine Labouré, a member of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and a Marian visionary, rests in a glass coffin at the side altar.

Last night, I was wishing I were staying on the Ile Saint-Louis where, after a stroll around the island at the heart of Paris, I’d walk the 1.7 miles to The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal where apparitions were experienced by Catherine Laboure on three successive days. 

Saint Vincent de Paul showed her his heart three times. Shortly after, Catherine saw Christ present in the Sacred Host, and on the feast of the Holy Trinity, Christ appeared as a crucified King. She also received three visits from the Blessed Virgin Mary including the request that a medal be created with the invocation: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." 

From May 1832 onwards the medal has performed miracles for the faithful. It’s immensely heartening to see this is so highly rated by visitors from all over the globe. A short video of "The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal”: (HERE). St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal: (HERE).

Thank you so much for stopping by...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stylish Roman Provence Wine ~

In Arles: Hotel-Particulier  

A short drive away in Nîmes...Ancient Roman waterworks...

Vincent Van Gogh painted this region obsessively,
His famous picture of a cafe in  Arles...that's still there.
Where the Gladiator was filmed. Love that movie. Clip: (HERE)
Let's Sack Roman Provence in Style~
Ruins of the Diana Temple in Nîmes~
Somewhere a photo exists of my then teenage son siting on the edge...
his feet dangling over the side... #FacePalm

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble”
~ So wrote Augustus, 1st Emperor of Rome, on his resume...

Prior to 28 BC--Arles and Nîmes were colonies of the Roman Empire sited along the Via Domitia--built in 118 BC to link Italy with Spain. Today Nîmes, is a chic walkable town in the Languedoc between the Mediterranean Sea and Cévennes mountains. At its heart is the gorgeous Jardins de la Fontaine, first civic garden of France...

The city’s population was 60,000 in its Augustan Age when defining features were set in place: the ring of ramparts and towers, the ancient masterwork Pont du Gard aqueduct--a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Maison Carrée Temple...a leading example of preserved Roman Empire architecture today. And the best-preserved Roman arena in France, locus of filming for the Gladiator film, for concerts, and replica Ancient Roman events. Other relics include the Temple of Diana...Goddess of the Moon, sister of Apollo.

Wine production in the region dates back to the Greeks, while bottles of local AOC Costières de Nîmes are produced between Nîmes and the western Rhône Delta, characterized by fresh coastal sea breezes, the gorgeous nature, and dedication to the ancient artsy perfection that surrounds winemakers...  

Thank you so much for stopping by: Starry, Starry Night

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Cathar Village Of Cordes-sur-Ciel In Languedoc~

Last night, at a talk on the Languedoc-Roussillon the speaker referenced the slaughter of the Cathars with scant context given the immense cultural impact. Pondering this, I searched for the Cathars amongst my nearly 900-posts, a short piece follows. In the coming weeks, I'll expand on their positive relevance to humanity in a troubled age:

Cordes-sur-Ciel, meaning rocky heights above the clouds, is an official “Most Beautiful Village of France” with a history that belies its storybook appearance...

Located in the Département du Tarn, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, land of the musical language of the Cathars. The first literary language of Europe since classical times--was the language of the Occitan people who flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries in what was then Occitania. 

Fortified Cordes-sur-Ciel was built between 1222-1229 by the Count of Toulouse for Cathars fleeing villages burnt down by order of Pope Innocent during his Albigensian Crusade--when 500,000 were slaughtered. 

Despite persecution the Cathars achieved a 13th century Golden Age that dawned on Templars, Troubadours, and the Holy Grail--and with an ancient secret scroll containing secrets of Jesus in their safe-keeping...

At the time, Esclarmonde de Foix, was considered the mystical Cathar’s Joan of Arc—a royal leader dedicated to a spiritual life of high culture, art, learning, and music

The Cathars did not eat meat, rejected the feudal system and organized churches. They refused to pay tithes to the Catholic Church. They erected defensive walled cities on high promontories along a route in the Pyrenees from near Cordes-sur-Ciel to Carcasssonne. The latter today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited locations in Europe.

Dedicated to following their Goddess known as the Pure One, the Cathars claimed to follow a secret Book of Love attributed to Jesus who'd passed it to John the Divine. Transmitted through the centuries, it was adopted by the Knights Templar and the Cathars as the foundation of their Church of Amor, or Love. 

They believed the purpose of life was to become worthy of the light of the Holy Spirit. Their Troubadours praised high ideals and creativity by singing about love, honor, courtesy, chivalry, and gentility. 

Today, Cordes-sur-Ciel's population of 1,000 lives within the preserved 13th and 14th-century Gothic setting located in the Gaillac vineyard region. What's not to like, oui?

The novel below is based on the true story of Esclarmonde de Foix--as a window into their history and lives. Château de Foix: (HERE). Thank you so much  for stopping by~

Monday, January 26, 2015

Salt Spring Island And Golden Syrup Spongecake Recipe~

“I feel so intensely the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one’s own, 
with...everything beautiful...I want to write a novel about Silence" ~Virginia Woolf

If you awoke with a desire to flee to a bucolic read poet seers, eat steamed spongecake, and quaff Mistaken Identity wine: (HERE)'ve come to the right place... 

Salt Spring Island is a tiny jewel nestled between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island, settled in the mid-1850s as the agricultural hub of the Gulf Islands. 

Stay at Hastings House a Relais and Chateaux waterfront resort on Ganges Harbour built by British architect Warren Hastings in 1940. Sip cocktails around the cozy inglenook fireplace after a day of exploring nature in your Wellies. Peruse the British spiritualists: Donne, Bronte, Rossetti, D.H.Lawrence, Kipling, Tennyson. Or. Just get your Spongecake on and re-watch Elivs Costello's She scene in Notting Hill while tears drop into your kitty's fur. I'm guessing ;)

Steamed Golden Syrup Spongecake~
Serves 6 to 8. 15 minutes active, 2 hours total to make


1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bowl
1/4 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup, plus additional for drizzling
1/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups self-rising all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream

Use a deep heatproof 1 quart bowl (not plastic)
Have on hand kitchen string


Add 2 inches water to a large wide pot. Set a rack or a few metal cookie cutters in bottom of pot and bring water to a boil. Bring 3 cups additional water to a simmer in a small saucepan.

Butter heatproof bowl, then pour 1/4 cup syrup into bottom. Beat together butter and sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then add flour and milk alternately in batches, beating until combined. Pour batter over syrup. Cover bowl with a large round of wax paper, then top with foil, crimping tightly around edge. Tie string around rim to secure.

Set covered bowl on rack (water should come three fourths of the way up side of bowl; add simmering water if necessary), cover pot, and steam cake over simmering water 1 1/2 hours. Remove bowl from pot and let stand 5 minutes. Discard foil and wax paper. Invert a plate over bowl, then invert cake onto plate. Serve immediately, drizzled with cream and additional syrup.

*Lyle's Golden syrup has salty-sweet, buttery flavor. Find it in the baking aisle of specialty foods shops, or on

The Lady of Shallot: (HERE). Prosperous Week to you...Thanks so much for stopping by...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Travels With A Donkey In The Cévennes~

Robert Louis Stevenson is world famous for his Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He's less known for the short, amusing Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes... 

Penned in 1878 when he was 28, it relates his 12 day, 120 mile trek--a classic of outdoor literature that Steinbeck regarded as one of the greatest works of English literature; and which inspired his own famous Travels With Charley.

Today's "Grande Randonnée 70" trail follows Stevenson’s route and is considered one of the 10 most beautiful distance hikes in France. Before starting out, RLS bought a donkey, Modestine, to carry supplies that included a firearm, wine, and a custom-made heavy-weight sleeping bag. By the end of their journey he admired her cunning and cried when he sold the intelligent little burro whom he'd spent nights with under the French stars.

Born in 1850 in Edinburgh, Stevenson wrote his first novel at the age of 14. He became a lawyer, much to his father's displeasure, but his father, a builder of lighthouses, was often disappointed with his sickly son who soon left the practice of law to make a canoe trip through Belgium and Northern France. It was on this trip that he fell in love with Fanny Osbourne--a married, mother of two. His walking tour across the Cévennes was spawned in part to mull their future...

In August 1878 he sailed to America then crossed the continent by rail to California where he awaited Fanny's divorce. He spent time on the Monterey Coast. Point Lobos, five miles south of where I live in Carmel-by-the-Sea, provided inspiration for his Treasure Island. He lived in "The French Hotel" which is open to the public today over in Old Monterey: (HERE).

In May 1880 he and Fanny married and travelled to Scotland, and then to Davos, Switzerland where he remained for his health. In April - May 1881 they spent the summer in the Scottish Highlands while he penned the first 15 chapters of Treasure Island, and then for the winter of 1881 - 1882 they returned to Davos where he completed the work. They moved to Chalet La Solitudee in the south of France and Treasure Island was published. From 1884-1887 they were in England with Stevenson in poor health. He wrote like a man possessed. They traveled to America, and stayed in the Adirondack mountains until January 1889; then left for San Francisco, then the South Seas, the Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu, Tahiti, Hawaii. 

In 1890 he purchased an abandoned estate: Vailima in the Samoan islands that Fanny remodeled. Sick and exhausted he continued to write. War broke out and in December 1894 he died of a stroke. Per his wishes he's buried on an island mountainside facing the sea...

Stevenson wrote, “It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”

Thanks so much for stopping by. Van Morrison's "These Are The Days"...