Seine River Cruise Travel Journal—Day 2

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

We spent our morning on a walking tour through Le Marais, the historic district of Paris.

We saw the remains of the 12th century that had protected Paris, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Victor Hugo’s house in Place des Vosges, the mansion where Mozart stayed while performing in Paris, and tucked away on an otherwise insconspicuous side-street, a Jewish memorial commemorating the Righteous Among the Nations—those who at great personal risk took action to protect Jews from the Holocaust during World War II.

The names of the Righteous were listed on a wall ironically juxtapositioned across the street from a small plaque on a government building acknowledging the responsibility of The Vichy Government in the deportation (and ultimate murder) of thousands of Jews during World World II. The acknowledgement on the plaque was dated December 15, 2001. Our tour guide told us it took that long for the French to formally acknowledge their complicity in the Holocaust. It began with one of the great appeasements in history and ended in genocide. Slippery and steep is the slope of moral compromise.

In the afternoon, I decided to go back to Notre Dame Cathedral. I had been here on previous trips to Paris, but I went back because of a courageous Frenchman who lived long before the so-called “Enlightenment” and atheism-fueled French Revolution had snuffed out the embers of what remained of Christianity in France. That man is Louis IX of France, more commonly known as Saint Louis.

Tunic of Saint Louis

Tunic of Saint Louis

King Louis IX was, by all accounts, a man who loved God. He was courageous in war, pious personally and in the implementation of his government policies. He was just with the accused and generous with the poor. His righteousness and fairness was so well-known he was asked by other European rulers to arbitrate disputes among them. Moreover, Louis’s patronage of the arts of spawned a renaissance in Europe.

I went back to Notre Dame Cathedral because I remembered St. Louis’s tunic was on a display there. If you visit Notre Dame it is easy to miss. It’s in a section down a hall to the right of the sanctuary in a small museum of artifacts.

If it was just an 800 year-old shirt, it would be pretty cool, but knowing it had once been worn by a great man who had lived so well the Kingdom admonition to be salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14) made it the highlight of the day. GS