The best way to describe this afternoon is a few words and lots of pictures, so I may end up providing a link to a Flickr page. I’ve downloaded a few photos from the camera, so these will have to be sufficient illustration.

We are now two days into the pilgrimage and immersion, so before we depart, perhaps I should describe our routine, as it develops. I am waking up early, because the nights are so short, and the best thing to do in these cool mornings is to go for a run. Issoudun is built in a low hill overlooking the river Theois, which has two channels, from what I can work out. The run is roughly up another hill to the cemetery, then the ring road runs for about three km around the town. I get off just before the river and turn right through the old streets and down to the park below the walls, then up through the town square or down past the station, and back to Place de Sacre-Coeur.

This gives me 45 minutes or so to tidy up and get ready for breakfast, which is at the civilised hour of eight o’clock and is a proper petit-dejeuner. I have decided that, in view of the dejeuner I am about to describe, breakfast is light: hot chocolate, yoghurt, cafe-au-lait and a piece of brioche. The view from the windows over the Parc de Sacre-Coeur is beautiful, but the lack of sun makes photos boring. I have gone for a walk around the park after breakfast both mornings as it is full of little shrines, and he school kids from next door can often be found in little groups on the grass, talking before school.
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The sessions are quite intense: the Cor Novum team are very aware of the brevity of our time, so the content is broad and the questions are deep. We work the better part of three hours in the morning and two in the afternoon, although today has been broken up by the tours. It is quite a demanding program that is set out, and each of the team members puts in their two penn’orth. Gerri is the facilitator and chief whip and provides a warm and inviting commentary; Linda has a very sharp mind and has done a great deal of the writing, I think; Hans is the theologian and Johannes is the historian, although many years as an msc (I forgot to ask, but he is in his eighties) provides him with an immense store of wisdom. I think he sees into people’s hearts very quickly and, even though he says he is not a writer, I hope that the other team members will record his memories and insights in some form. Cathy is obviously in her early stages as part of the team, but she is delightful, leads some of the reflections and again is a warm and welcoming presence. This is my first exposure to the the OLSH sisters, and these three are pretty impressive people.

Lunch is the full dejeunuer, with vin de table, light red wine that is apparently cheaper than Coke. Just as well, because that’s how we are drinking it. Between the bread and the wine, most of the team are looking particularly pleased! The menu is always a salad or starter, a cooked main with a vegetable, then cheese, dessert and coffee. A siesta would be good, but there is always something to do!

Dinner is the light meal, soup and a light main, with cheese, bread and wine. We keep saying we will go out for a beer afterwards, but I am still pretty tired and I don’t think I will last much longer tonight.

The trip to Bourges was ostensibly to see the city in which Chevalier completed his seminary training, but it think it was also a time to get people out into the countryside and then into an historic city. The cathedral is massive and, because it lacks transepts and has five naves, seems extraordinarily large — bigger in volume that Notre Dame in Paris! Of course, the windows around the choir are stunning: all medieval and all part of that picture teaching of the old church.
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The surrounds, of course, were equally amazing, once you had got past the fifteen weddings I think I counted, because the mairie is in the old Archbishops Palace. There were registry weddings of all descriptions and faiths’ as well as four in the Cathedral while we were there. Lots of military marriages! After that, it took quite a while to walk around the Cathedral to see the moat and the false crypt, walk a part of the Roman walls and then climb back through the streets to find Hans, Fiona and a couple of others sitting outside a pub drinking beer. They obviously needed the support, so I was forced to join them! Home through the early evening, with the sun still high, past a chateau or two, fields of grain, rivers running with the run-off from this wet spring, the turbines standing on the ridges slowly turning, and back towards the sire of the basilica.

This completely fails to give any sense of proportion!

Looking west, towards the organ, which was having a little recital between nuptials.

Mindblowing glass. What artistry and craftsmanship.

And souls in the bosom of Abraham.

Roman wall, mediaeval additions and later houses built in and out of the walls!

Doesn’t really show the way the old town clusters on the north side. But sort of…

The choir and chapels actually protrude over the moat and the walls, so they had to create a false crypt.

This shows the sheer bulk of the place!