Friday, February 05, 2016

History is everywhere

Today's life hides yesteryear's.

The Argelès-sur-mer church is just one example.

Notre Dame del Prat (Our Lady of the Meadow) was built in the 14th century although a chapel was said to have been on the site from the 1100s.

Imagine the number of births, marriages and funerals that have taken place over the centuries. The stories of people's lives as the village grew from a few hundred to the almost 10,000 it is today would fill thousands of books or be fodder for plays and movies.

Throught the years the church has gone thru repairs and today there is yet another preservation underway.

To the left, is a plaza where dances are held and marché vendors set up their stands on Wednesdays and Saturdays. How different that is from when it was a cemetery. Early Aregelesians stood and cried as their wives, husbands, children and parents were lowered into the graves. They came by with flowers and prayers. All of them has vanished into time.

The cemetery existed when the village was walled in to protect itself from the pirates that would come thru the swamp or from different battles between waring Catalan counts viaing for territory. Those swamps became fields and vineyards and are now houses varying in age from several hundred years to modern apartment buildings.

In 1341 bakery incomes were given to the church. Jean-Marc, our local historian explains how the apse's direction was changed after part of the church collapsed but the date is uncertain. Today's arrangement dates to the 1700 hundreds.

And I have my own miniscule  history with the church,

When I first walked into the village in 1980 two angels flanked the front door. After one reconstruction they were moved to the plaza.

Vandals have twice broken the wings as if they are anti angel adding another bit of history. I wonder if I can come up with a story about a handicapped angel and the kids that hurt it. 

I've attended Easter Mass at the church with my beloved stepmom. She was amazed when the statues were marched around the church and out to the steps. "It's like a religious square dance," she whispered. Not only is it a church memory, it is a mom memory

I was a witeness to my wantabe brother's wedding. We walked out to "Oh Happy Days" and it was.

I've attended concerts, one of the most painful was the the Gospel Chorus the first time my late friend Barbara wasn't singing her heart out on the far left.

The church when it comes to history is nothing unique. I grew up on an Indian burial site where arrowheads could still be found. I walked on Straight Street to buy nuts in Damascus, the same street mentioned in the Bible. The battlefields of Lexington, Concord and Manassas are today peaceful. A chapel in Garmish is covered with photos of German youth dead for the other side, but no less deas long before their time. There are almost no place I've been that there wasn't life centuries before me.

It is reminder that we ourselves will one day be history remembered first by those we knew than we will be forgotten history, but we still have existed.

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