|See top of the head of the statue. Can you tell the difference?|
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Notre Dame, Saigon
One of my best sunset experiences in Saigon is to be around the Notre Dame. I could sit outdoor in one of the coffee shops across. Ideally, I am accompanied by a cup of coffee…and a slice of apple crumble or chocolate banana cake….with beautiful cathedral view… the pigeons flying around the cathedral….people voluntarily feeding the pigeons and doves… sitting there enjoying the sunset with our loved one... What else in the world could be better than this?
If I bow my back a little bit, I could position my eyes as high as the table, I could see the Cathedral in between my coffee and cake..
The Virgin Mary Statue
There is a small park with Virgin Mary statue in front of the Cathedral. I like standing there in the park and look above to the sky to see the pigeons flying around. Doves are there at the side of the street too, but they do not fly around. They just enjoy the free feed from the people. At one time, coincidentally, I managed to take a pic of a pigeon which landed just right on top of the head of the statue…-:)
Notes from Wikipedia: During October 2005, the statue was reported to have shed tears, attracting thousands of people and forcing authorities to stop traffic around the Cathedral. However, the top clergy of the Catholic Church in Vietnam confirmed that the Virgin Mary statue in front of a Cathedral did not shed tears, which nevertheless failed to disperse the crowd flocking to the statue days after the incident. The reported 'tear' flowed down the right cheek of the face of the statue. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saigon_Notre-Dame_Basilica
Inside The Cathedral
The first time I went there it was in the morning and the Cathedral was open. I think it was after the mass. I could come inside and see the beautiful ornaments.
To be honest I am not an expert in Cathedral history. Therefore, the word of Cathedral gives me such feeling that I felt so strong when I walked inside… The feeling that the word of Cathedral is so spiritual and full of magical aura. It is hard for me to explain it, it is indescribable.
Cathedral tiles have been carved with the words Guichard Carvin, Marseille St André France (perhaps stating the locality where the tiles were produced). This is a family name, so this is certainly the name of the company producing the tiles. Some tiles are carved with the words "Wang-Tai Saigon". Many tiles have since been made in Ho Chi Minh City to replace the tiles that were damaged by the war. There are 56 glass squares supplied by the Lorin firm of Chartres province in France. The Cathedral foundation was designed to bear ten times the weight of the Cathedral. Sources are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saigon_Notre-Dame_Basilica and http://froulala.blogspot.com/2011/06/old-glimpses-of-saigon.html
The parts that attract me more are the walls on the left and right sides. They are not so far from the entrance. Walls are decorated with many tiles saying Merci, Cảm ơn, Reconnaissance. I understand that these are called “ex-voto”.
An ex-voto is a votive offering to a saint or divinity. It is given in fulfillment of a vow (hence the Latin term, short for ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made") or in gratitude or devotion. Ex-votos are placed in a church or chapel where the worshipper seeks grace or wishes to give thanks. The destinations of pilgrimages often include shrines decorated with ex-votos. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ex-voto
As I live not far from the Cathedral, I could hear the bell rung at 5.00 a.m. At one morning, I intentionally woke up when I heard it. I opened my curtain, looked toward the Cathedral, listened to the bell carefully…. Then I closed my eyes and tried to feel the aura. Indescribable.
It was still dawn and the sun had not risen yet…. I could see some lights from the surrounding office buildings, street lights and few motorbikes which were already in the streets… Such scenery was a mix color between yellowish and orange… It was a beautiful dawn. Minute by minute the scenery changes color, brighter, and brighter and the sun comes up. Another day, another challenge.