Rhone River Travel Journal—Day 2

Tomb of Pope Innocent VI
Tomb of Pope Innocent VI

Our day began at La Chartreuse, a 14th century monastery established by Cardinal Etienne Aubert, who became Pope Innocent VI, the Fifth Avignon pope. Now if you don’t embrace popery or monkery, I get it. I am a born-again, Protestant, substantially Reformed, post-millennial, non-denominational, Bible-believing, Charismatic, former Catholic, or if you are not into the whole label thing, just call me a Jesus-follower.

The thing is if you lived in Europe any time after Augustine (fourth century) until the sixteenth century, and you loved God, Catholicism was the only game in town. Even the Orthodox were no different on the issue of salvation—both believed works were necessary in addition to grace through faith.

So, with pre-Reformation people, I look at whether they were known as people who loved God or who were known as being “pious.” If they were, there is a good chance they knew God. I don’t know how that sits with Protestant theologoians, but I suspect it was close enough, given their times.

At La Chatruesse, we saw the tomb of Pope Innocent VI. Interestingly, before he became pope, Pope Innocent VI taught law and was the bishop of Noyon—the town where John Calvin was born. It’s hard to tell what kind of Christian Pope Innocent VI was, but many of the popes clearly were not Christians, just politicians with funny hats.

After La Chartreusse we visited the Fort—St. Andre, a medieval fortress built by French king, Philip the Fair  in the early 1300s to keep an eye on the popes across the Rhone in Avignon. The fort provided us a beautiful view of Avignon. We then walked to the village below. On the way, we came across a fig tree, located in a local resident’s back yard but whose limbs hung over the fence within reach of fortutious passers-by.

Ann is a free spirit. On the Carolignian & Crusader trip, as we walked through the vineyards in the Champagne region of France and without remorse she plucked grapes from the vines. I thought this theft; she viewed it as the good grace and favor of God. Today, after interpreting the fig tree’s proximity to the road as a sign of God’s indisputable favor on her life, Ann reached for its fruit. Even my advice that her partaking may result in her visit to a French prison did not dissuade her, but before she could grasp the prize we heard voices from the back yard, which proved a sufficient deterrent.

After a relaxing lunch in Villeneuve lez Avignon, we returned to the hotel, took a taxi to the docks and boarded the cruise ship to begin our cruise.

See you tomorrow. GS


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