Sunday, February 3, 2013


Well, who cares what he thinks--he was deaf!  But did you know there was a real-life Quasimodo? Discovered by Adrian Glew in the Tate archives in 2010. Glew found evidence that a "humpbacked stone carver" worked at Notre Dame during the 1820's, contained in the memoirs of Henry Sibson, a 19th century British sculptor who was working at the Cathedral around the same time as Victor Hugo wrote his novel. He described him in these words "he was the carver under the Government sculptor whose name I forget as I had no interaction with him, all that I know is that he was humpbacked and did not like to mix with the carvers."

Sibson discovered that Hugo had links with the restoration of the cathedral at that time and was aware that the hunchback oversaw another employee named Monsieur Trajin, Both Hugo and the hunchback (Le Bossu) lived in the same town of St. Germain des Pres in 1833.  In the early drafts of Les Miserables, Hugo named his main character "Jean Trajin," later changing it to "Jean Valjean." Connect the Dots, or rather the Humps.

Friday night it wasn't looking good for Eric and Aleks to get into the interior of the Cathedral for the filming of the ceremony to bless the bells and all that jazz.  Even Emmanuelle, our "bossu" was saying "Non, Non, Non"...but then I had a hunch!

ET & A said:  ALLONS-Y  (Let's go)
and they got in to film what they said was the most "spectacular bell ceremony imaginable."

Notre Dame Cathedral - Blessing of the Bells, Eric Thiermann/Aleksandra Wolska & Archbishop Vingt-Trois

Photos by Eric & Aleks -

Eric Thiermann, Notre Dame Cathedral - Feb. 2, 2013

They'll be off to a favorite place of mine in a few days--Plum Village--to interview the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.  More bells, more blessings,

And you know what they say each time a bell rings?  A new angel gets its wings.

Angel Montparnasse

           Adam Zagajewski

We’ll take refuge in bells, in the swinging bells,
in the peal, the air, the heart of ringing.
We’ll take refuge in bells and we’ll float
over the earth in their heavy casings.

Over the earth, over meadows
and a single white daisy, over the bench on which love
carved its imperfect symbol, over a willow
obedient to the will of cool wind,

over the Tatras’ green lake, over crying
and mourning, over binoculars shining
in sun,

Over the border, over your attentive gaze,
over the pupil of somebody’s eye, over a rusty cannon,
over the garden gate which no longer exists,
over clouds, over rain drinking dew,

over the town park where a Swiss Army knife,
lost lifetimes ago, lies hidden still.
When the night comes, we’ll take refuge
in bells, those airy carriages,
those bronze balloons.

(Translated by Renata Gorczynski, Benjamin Ivry and C. K. Williams)


  1. Who is the woman in the black cape on the right amongst all the priests in white - a witch?

  2. Good Question! You are close observer. I will investigate, Eric coming back from Chartres filming

  3. Lisa, I think they were "Canons"--Augustinian priests--unlike monks they sometimes engage in public ministry of liturgy and sacraments. "Canons Regular" are sometimes called Black or White Canons, depending on color of habit worn by congregation they belong to.

    Aleksandra noticed there were two of them dressed in black,
    but she said she saw "lace" too, so??? but hey it was a special day and they ARE French...

  4. Definitely looks like a woman....women priests???