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Monastic Life

September 24, 2018

This is a longer than usual post as this is a spectacular place. My good friend Ralph told me that Conques was magical, so when I arrived my expectations were high. The trail coming in to town was a steep and tough descent.

My walking companion Josette banged up her right foot and was barely able to walk in the morning.

The welcome by volunteers in the e Benedictine Abbye was warm and friendly with all the usual procedures except that our packs were put in fumigated plastic bags (bedbug prevention). Boots and walking sticks in the courtyard.

The sleeping room is ordinary with an excellent bathroom right next door (unisex, as seems to be the custom).

Dinner at 7:00 pm in the refectory was chicken, carrot salad, potatoes with cheese, and good wine. Cheese and cake for dessert. One of the hospitaliers told me the blue cheese was local and where the variety originated.

We had been at the Cathedral earlier for a choral concert by a group of talented women, and now returned there for a pilgrim blessing by the Benedictine brothers. Because I was an English speaker, I was invited to make a reading, as were a Frenchman, a German, and a Spanish woman. The reading wasn’t familiar but was Old Testament-ish, probably from the Psalms.

Following we were invited to an organ concert. I explored the second floor of the immense stone church. The organist played a hymn I remember my mother playing, a very emotional experience for me. The acoustics of a pipe organ in a stone cathedral are amazing. He wrapped up the concert with a spectacular rendition of “The House of the Rising Sun”. He told me afterward that it was made popular in France by a French singer and he hadn’t known of its American origin until some American visitors told him.

Then we went outside and listened to a long history of the town in French. I couldn’t put together the story from what I understood. This is the famous facade of “Last Judgement” in daylight. What followed next (10:30 pm) was incredible.

Using a light projection system (laser?) the colors originally painted there were restored in great detail and vibrancy. An altogether amazing evening!

I am laying in today, recovering from 11 days on the trail. Josette and I shared a last lunch of bread and cheese and grapes, then she caught the bus back to Le Puy. She became a good friend.

Here is a piece of the concert. Conques is indeed magical. I’m back on the trail at 7:30 am, am getting deep into rural French culture.

From → Writing Fiction

4 Comments
  1. Conques ; eh? Ok will star that on my map! Wow…The House of the Rising Sun- love it

    Poor Josette – i hope her injury heals quickly-

  2. Leslie permalink

    What a wonderful place to take a day “off” and lucky you to stay with the Benedictine’s…so both your Latin and French can be used! Now that would be magical (miraculous) indeed.
    Keep these great posts coming

  3. Wilhelm permalink

    It’s very nice my Friend Robert! Bon Chemin!

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