your overwrought conscience has been missing.
Too often left out of guidebooks and Paris tours, it's a
reminder of Paris' sometimes disagreeable past.
Perhaps like me, you'll find more than one reason to fall in love
with this beautiful and historical place.
EXPIATORY - the act of atonement
Making amends for acts of wrongdoing can be a lifelong project.
Muddling through life's challenges and confusing truths
often results in more questions than answers.
Most of us hope to bury our mistakes and make a turn for the better.
Paris is a wonderful place to celebrate life
and all the beautiful things that accompany it.
But it's also a place where even the most casual visitor faces the ugliness of
history and the regretful results of society's sometimes less than stellar behaviors.
Opened in 1826 to honor the memory of the deposed -- and beheaded --
King & Queen of France, the chapel sought to atone for the acts of violence committed during the French Revolution against the royals.
The memorial honors King Louis XVI, Queen Marie Antoinette and a curated
collection of others who succumbed to the gruesome truth of the guillotine.
The Chapel and its garden is a beautiful oasis in the heart of the city,
one that every Paris lover should slowly uncover and savor.
"Success is relative. It is what we make of the mess we have made of things."
Madeleine Cemetery, one of several burial sites for those executed
during the bloody 2-year period we now call the Reign of Terror (1792-1794).
Charlotte Corday, Madame du Barry and dozens of Swiss Guards
savaged in the Tuileries Garden mob massacre
were some of the cemetery's well-known residents.
When the monarchy was briefly restored in 1814,
King Louis XVIII immediately transferred his brutalized brother
and sister-in-law to the Basilica of Saint-Denis.
He sent most of those buried in the Madeleine Cemetery
to the Paris Catacombs and began his pet construction project.
From the ashes of the Reign of Terror came the Chapelle Expiatoire.
Its stated purpose was to memorialize the king's dearly departed
brother, recasting Louis XVI's and Marie Antoinette's reputation.
The bloody French Revolution had scarred
the nation and sullied the family name.
With his atonement chapel, Louis XVIII hoped to absolve the sins of a nation.
"A king should die on his feet."
King Louis XVIII of France
so the Chapel Expiatoire was controversial.
By 1871, The Commune insisted it be torn down.
Cooler heads prevailed and still today, a mass is held in the chapel
every January 21st to commemorate the beheaded king.
The chapel is beautiful and calming.
It's ironic to consider history's bloodiest pages produced a memorial
as dreamy and gentle as this....
"It is not "forgive and forget" as if nothing wrong had ever happened,
but "forgive and go forward", building on the mistakes of the past
and the energy generated by reconciliation to create a new future."
Alan Paton, South African writer and anti-apartheid activist, author of "Cry, the Beloved Country"
Attached to the chapel is a little museum that's filled with treasures of the period.
It brings history to life and manages to make the royals
and their entourage a little more human.
Included is a photo of La Dame de Gourbillon
who headlined a scandal at court for years.
It's a juicy one, leading to her eventual removal from court
and still later, seizure of her letters to and from the queen.
Today's tabloids would have a field day with this one!
the Swiss Guards who unflinchingly died while defending the King.
In case you don't know their story, here's a quick overview.
In a defining moment of the French Revolution,
the revolutionaries -- aka the mob -- stormed the Tuileries Palace.
They wanted blood -- the king and queen's blood to be exact -- and their
terroristic intent could not be stopped.
There were close to 1000 Swiss Guards willing to
defend the castle and their monarch but to no avail.
An estimated 800 of them lost their lives during that hellish day in August of 1792. Dedicated to the memory of these lost soldiers,
the tombs honor the memory of those who served.
The world continues to brew a stew of hatred; too often I'm among
those wringing my hands and bellyaching about the "others".
It often feels like there are more of "them" than "us".
Hate crimes, ugly twitter feed and lies leave many of us feeling defeated.
We want truth but we need to learn to look for it in-between the lines.
Finding our better angels is not always easy.
The outrageous language and actions of others need not stain our own good hearts.
Showing respect for others through our own behavior is a good start.
Atonement. It's a loaded word.
Healing and moving on.
We need more of that.
Love vs Hate -- which do you choose?
"When they go low, we go high."
Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States