Sunday, October 30, 2016

Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church, Saint Zacharie, France

photo from wikiwand

I returned from Switzerland last night and this morning I was laying in bed, being very lazy...thinking about how I should get up, take a bath, wash last nights dishes, find something useful to do...

Then I heard the church bells ringing. They ring on the hour. 7 rings for 7:00, 8 rings for 8:00, 9 rings for 9:00 and so on. Every so often I hear them ringing and ringing and ringing.

Clearly something other than chiming out the time of day. My friend Corey (a long time resident) said "It is a call to mass."

The bell tower was built in 1633

When I heard the church bells I got out of bed, threw on some halfway decent clothes, wet my hair and blew it dry (to get rid of the bedhead) and shot out the door. I walked around the corner to the village church (of course there is only one church, and of course it's Catholic) and pushed the massive wooden door open. 

Did you notice the shepherd's lamb?

St. John the Baptist Catholic church is a stone edifice with (original) components that date back to the 11th century. It is partially crumbling and partially palatial. The simplest of simple wood chairs, with rush seats, are lined up and set upon cheap carpeting, spectacular stone walls with gothic arches soar 50-60 up to the ceiling. 

One priest and two altar boys conduct mass for a mere handful of congregants, most of them elderly. On either side of the alter are priceless paintings. Brilliant stained glass windows filter in ambient light.

During the offering, an elderly women passed a simple reed basket lined with cotton cloth. I dropped a few coins into the basket and she murmured, "Merci Madame."

Catholics do a lot of kneeling during the church service. The kneeling boards in front of the chairs were narrow, hard, wooden. One tiny, elderly lady could not kneel and simply bowed her head.

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