The hubris of men
We made our way to the summit of the butte Montmartre, drawn by the remarkable Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, sitting atop the highest hill of Paris. Sacré-Cœur.
I knew very little about the Basilica before we visited (reaching the steps at the front door thanks to the wheelchair accessible funiculaire de Montmartre -- although Spike descended all 197 steps on the way back down). I still know not very much but the experience turned out to be both fascinating and educational.
;I have long understood that Cathedrals, Abbeys, churches generally were built to impress to impose themselves upon the area in which they were erected and on the lives of the people who live around the buildings and were drawn to them as worshippers and pilgrims. And impose itself upon the land and people is certainly something Sacré-Cœur does in spades. Even now, in this much more secular world in which we live
But I underestimated the extent to which the fusion of State and Church were made manifest in this building. The affairs of men and the work of the Lord conflated in a building commenced in 1875 but not completed until 1914. I did not know until I read the National Vow' that the sins of the nation (and its people) were deemed to have led to the defeat of France in the Franc-Prussian war.
The Sacré-Cœur is an act of penance offered up to a (presumably) vengeful, selfish God. How weird. How tragically ironic that its foundations were laid in the aftermath of one war and its doors opened on the precipice of the 'war to end all wars'.
The National Vow of 1870.
In the presence of the misfortunes that have befallen France and the greater misfortunes that perhaps still threaten her.
In the presence of the sacrilegious attacks committed in Rome against the rights of the Church and the Holy See and against the sacred person of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
We humble ourselves before God and uniting in our love both Church and Fatherland, recognize that we have sinned and been justly punished.
And to make honorable amends for our sins and obtain through the infinite mercy of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ pardon for our faults, as well as the extraordinary help that alone can deliver the Holy Pontiff from his captivity and put an end to the misfortunes of France, we hereby promise to contribute to the construction, in Paris, of a sanctuary dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.