Monday, March 17, 2014

A Special Lenten Event in Paris

The Crown of Thorns
(shown in modern reliquary)
Paris, Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris
Over the centuries the individual thorns have been
removed and distributed throughout Europe as
"daughter" relics.

On the Fridays of Lent the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris displays its most famous relics. These are the relics of the Passion of Christ, acquired by St. Louis in 1239. These are the remains of the Crown of Thorns, a portion of the True Cross and one of the Nails of the Passion. These are the relics which Louis, stripped of the trappings of his position, welcomed with humility to his capital on August 10, 1239. These are the relics for which he built the beautiful, delicate and dazzling Sainte Chapelle as a kind of jewel box reliquary.

Interior of Sainte Chapelle
Paris, 1239-1248
The relics have a long and amazing history, reaching back to the fourth century when they were located by St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine. They were located in Jerusalem until moved for safety to Imperial Byzantium. There they remained until they were sold to the pious St. Louis, Louis IX of France, in 1239.  
St. Louis Carrying the Crown of Thorns,
French (Tours), 1245-1248,
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Cloisters Collection
This stained glass, made during the
lifetime of St. Louis, shows Louis
and his brothers as they welcomed the
sacred relics of the Passion to Paris n 1239.
They have been in Paris or its suburbs ever since. During the French Revolution they were kept at Saint Denis, outside Paris, and returned to Church in 1806. Since the Sainte Chapelle is no longer used for its original purpose, they have been housed in the Cathedral ever since.

The relics are on view for veneration on Fridays at 3 PM and on Good Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

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