Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Calvin Escapes from Paris

St St. Etienne du Mont is the church where Blaise Pascal is buried, and the relic of St. Genevieve, patron saint of the city of lights rests in an elaborate sarcophogus, shown in the video clip on the title link above. Calvin studied at College de Montaigu diagonally across from this 13-century church, and from 1531-33 lived on Rue Valette in an upper tower room at the College de Fortet. It was from here that he was forced to flee for his life out an upper window down a rope, escaping the city disguised as a vinter. I find it impossible to believe that devout teenage Calvin did not cross the street many times and attend mass in this church. He wrote little about his own life, so there is no written record of this, but one only needs to visit this incomparable church to believe that Calvin, committed papist that he admits he was in his youth, did not often enter these walls.

Readers of my book The Betrayal, a novel on John Calvin, will notice the striking similarity of the back courtyard arch near the College de Fortet, University of Paris where, in 1533, Calvin escaped out the window of his tower rooms .

Notre Dame, Paris, one of the best known cathedrals in the world, was a pilgrimage sight throughout the middle ages, pilgrims coming to venerate the alleged crown of thorns, the stone on which the finger of God wrote the Decalogue, and other relics. Calvin believed the idea of pilgrimage was unbiblical, one of the false sacraments "contravening reformation." Calvin was consumed with zeal for the glory of God, and pilgrimage shifted glory away from God to saints and their moldering remains. He would disapprove, incidentally, of Calvinists going on pilgrimage to Paris, Geneva, Strasbourg, and Noyon as we are doing as I write. However, I think he might have approved if we did this with the single goal of learning more of the majesty of God, and being consumed, as Calvin was, with worship, adoration, proclamation, and service to our Sovereign Lord and loving heavenly Father. The plaza stretching in front of the cathedral was one of the favorite martyr sites in Paris, and twice, in 1542 and 1544, piles of Calvin's now famous (infamous to Roman Catholics) Institutes were put to the torch. Calvin had prefaced the Institutes to Francis I, monstrous persecutor of Christians, as an appeal to stop the torturing and killing of Christians in his realm.

August 23, 1572, the chiming of the bell "Marie" on the 12th century square tower of the royal chapel, St. Germain l'Auxerrois, next to the Louvre (once the royal residence in Paris) was the agreed upon signal to begin the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. 3,000 Huguenots were killed in this neighborhood in Paris, with estimates of 20,000 throughout the country. In 1523, fourteen-year-old Calvin lived with his uncle Richard Calvin on the Rue de Vallette, a nearby street that no longer bears that name.

Click on the title linked above to my youtube account for video clips of all these places and much more.

1 comment:

  1. This is great! I like the video. I' going to show it to my boys since we read abotu it in your book.