Thursday, July 24, 2014

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

It's been so long since my last post that I bet you thought archi-trouve was gone for good. The truth is that we've been traveling almost non-stop this year and there hasn't been much time to write. But today, when I realized that it had been over two months since my last post, I decided that was long enough. Earlier this month we spent some time in the Pyrenees Mountains, so the next two or three blogs will be dedicated to some of the things we saw in southern France and northern Spain.

The Pyrenees is a wild region with small villages clinging precariously to mountain slopes and oppressive fortifications from the long struggle between France and Spain.  Despite the rocky, in places almost lunar, landscapes, the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Today, life in these remote mountain villages can be inconvenient, but in the Middle Ages it must have been unbearable: cold, barren and isolated.

So what better place to put a monastery? If your professed intention was to get away from it all, to remove yourself from worldly temptation and to work hard for the Lord, no place could have been more fitting than the Pyrenees. And sure enough, on our recent visit we found that everywhere we looked, on nearly every peak, no matter how isolated, there was a church, chapel, hermitage, monastery or abbey.  Of these, one of the most noteworthy is the Priory of Sainte Marie de Serrabone.