Tuesday, November 08, 2005


The first place-name reported as the fires erupted in suburban Paris was "St. Denis", a name which means only one thing to me: the birthplace of what we now call "Gothic" architectural style.

The abbey church th
ere, today sadly marooned among warehouses and other inglorious structures, was once home to a Benedictine monastic community whose 12th-century Abbot, Suger, masterminded the overhaul of the existing Romanesque church to embody his new theology of the meaning and power of light as an image God, by incoporating all the latest ideas and construction technologies of his age. Under his supervision (really his micro-management, it's fair to say) St. Denis became the model for architectural innovation all over Europe, its style transported almost immediately to Canterbury, England, among other places.

Ironically (it now seems), St. Denis was the first building in Christian Europe to fully exploit the structural possibilities of the pointed arch -- a feature borrowed from the architectural wonders of Moorish (Islamic) Spain.

So I think about St. Denis, and the Jihad-fuelled rage now literally inflaming the Muslim ghettos around it, and in cities across France-- and I whisper through clenched teeth, "Don't you dare. Don't even think about it."

Rose Window

1 comment:

Fr. Thomas Trottier said...

Things are so bad in France I'm thinking of vacationing in Haiti this summer, just to be on the safe side. Or is France the new Haiti?