Friday, November 01, 2013

Lavaur. Saint-Alain. Rome Did Not Prevail Here After All. Is That So?

Enough people cared about the brutal end of the Cathars in the Languedoc to keep representations of it in this church, Saint-Alain at the now-backwater town of Lavaur. See the paintings here.They preserve the crusades' brutal history, but are ignored.  So, ask:  Why does the West (us) reject from our cultural consciousness the idea the religous instutition that emerged triumphant in the middle ages, the Roman Catholic, until the Reformation; only did so by killing off and discrediting the opposition, and confiscating the estates and property of those who disagreed with institutioanl dogma.

Why should I care? I am not a devout institutional person. And burning alive hundreds of persons at once, one's erstwhile friends, neighbors, even relatives, as was not unusual on the pyres during the Albigensian Crusade. Yet the concept  that we would kill, yes slaughter, tens of thousands in order to kill off ideas, is surprisingly alien to our idea of ourselves. And that denial persists as we tut-tut slaughters of one religious group by another in other parts of the world, whether Sunni-Shia, Catholics-Protestants in the Thirty Years' War, etc. Name your culture, name your religious oppositions.  Number us in there.

Authenticity of photographs.  Would someone please follow up here. Go to Lavaur, knowing in advance what might be found. We were taken by surprise.  Why all the changes to the church since it was constructed in the 13th Century after the crusade had beaten out the Cathars, why was there no bishop here until 1317 unless this place still needed beating down; why all the changes since then documented inside the church on little posters that I photographed but now cannot read.  Someone, please preserve it.

  • In the photos we have, with amateur camera and battery trouble, my son and I swapped cameras and now find this photo mixed in with that, and jpg numbers jumbled.  Reaffirm please. Chronological numeration fails when two cameras are being tossed back and forth, and cards exchanged.

Some photographs look too gilt, in good condition, to have been in Lavaur. But depending on whose camera we used, that need not disqualify a photo as being Lavaur.  The subject matter is clear.  I need to go back to jpg numbers. 

The church contains many seemingly non-Catholic symbols.  Here is a heart, but with a dagger through it.  That is not the bleeding heart of Jesus, etc.  What is it? The Cathars were a people of paratge, of profound courtesy and respect for others.  See  Did the West destroy its own "heart" by killing off the ones who valued comity.  Those of us left: the killing ones?

On the pulpit: Who is this woman?  No idea. Cathars valued women, and women were at the highest level of "Parfaites" as the men also were "Parfaits" -- but not in a hierarchy, control sense. 

This prominence of a woman holding -- is that a book? does not look Catholic.  Did an element of Lavaur's Cathars persist?  Help, here.Putting outside information together suggests that this might be the Lady of Lavaur, whose castle was destroyed and she herself cast into a well by the crusaders, who then stoned her to death deep within.  Rosettes on side.  She is also known formally as Dame Giraude de Laurac.  What is she taking away?

Then, the ultimate Catholic, Queen in Crown, this altar clearly repaired, kept up, tidy, nice flowers.  But it looks very out of place, and faked.

If there is money for this nice altar, why not for the rest of the memorial?  You dare to ask? Still checking jpg numbers to verify the chronology.

This is the reason to memorialize history here.  Keep the memory so we never, ever let it happen again. Fat chance.  So did Rome give up here, resistance too strong even after centuries, and move itself and its bishop to Albi.