I spent the day in Toulouse, which meant there was only so much I could see. Kind of like life. After talking briefly to a couple in Auvillar, Gerhard, originally from Germany, and Marie-Josef, from France, about their project of creating a memorial to the 4 families who were deported to Auschwitz from Auvillar, I had a bit of an edge—more so than usual—when Gerhard described to me that even during the first crusade, in 1095, the French made a decision to lengthen their route to Jerusalem by first going through the area where I am to kill whatever Jews they could find.
So here I was setting out and though I always intend to do otherwise, the churches do have a way of drawing me in. First was Saint Sernin, where I stumbled upon a funeral in progress, which meant I got to hear the mournful strains of the organ and to see the priest in his royal purple robe in procession with the mourners. Then a brief visit to the archaeological museum next door. Once there were figures of pagan gods and heroes, I felt a lot more at home.
Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar (4th Labor)
Venus & child (not unlike Madonna & child)
The highlight of the day was the Black Madonna in the Eglise Dourade: a church built over a pagan church.
No one can give a good answer as to why there are black madonnas, but there was a level of devoutness that I witnessed in the women (the black madonna protects pregnant women and mothers in particular) praying to her. She had an aura of mystery and serenity. And when I glanced across at the chapel on the other side, a strange ray of light coming through the stained glass fell on the afternoon wall, making an impressionist painting far superior to anything I had seen in the Capitol buidling earlier that day.
I failed miserably at getting a look inside a synagogue. I was told by phone that everyone was going on vacation. So as I ran to the train station, I snapped a quick picture of the facade of this newish-looking, nondescript synagogue.
Synagogue Palaprat (near the train station)
The hour grows late. I'll save for tomorrow the place that inspired hushed resonance to rival that of any house of worship. (Hint: Think literature.)