Manning Leonard Krull maintains a blog titled: Cool Stuff in Paris. Recently I came across his report of having visited the Paris neighborhood church of Saint Germain des Pres and discovering this unfinished 13th century stone statue of the Virgin Mary, unearthed by archaeologists in 1999.
The little sign by the statue suggests the image was perhaps being created to stand at the doorway of the nearby Chapel of the Virgin and that the anonymous artist abandoned the project when it was discovered the measurements were incorrect. At some point the Chapel of the Virgin was demolished.
But can we imagine the surprised delight when archaeologists, digging around in the left behind piles of foundation-stone, came across this Virgin Mary and Child, buried for eight centuries!
We can tell the statue was unfinished because Mary's crown is only roughed out. Mysteriously, the Child has been essentially chopped out.
I know this church, having visited it when I traveled to Paris as a young priest in the early 1980's, years before the image was discovered. So now I'm returning there in my imagination and placing myself before Her. Even though the statue is chipped, broken and even hacked at, for me, it remains very beautiful. Mary's smile remains intact. I'm thinking of how many people keep or re-discover their smile, despite great suffering and neglect.
|Kevin Kuster's ~ "Leper Colony -|
Love, Laughter + Photos"
But there's more: the buried statue was discovered in the foundation in three parts. Everyone can understand this: "I'm going to bits," "Everything I hoped for and planned is coming apart," "My heart is broken," "This relationship is ruined," "I'm being pulled apart."
We might keep the image of the statue close by as a picture-reminder that heaven knows and sees our lives where we feel we're "Coming apart at the seams" or where we feel we're being "buried" - buried under bills, buried under pressures and responsibilities, buried under sorrows, buried under health concerns....
O newly discovered Lady of Paris,
put us back together
who are coming apart.
Dig us out,
covered in shame,
Heal the trauma;
restore the smiles
lost to complaints;
Re-oranize us, all in bits and pieces -
leaning into us dearly,
distracted by the losses.
Oh, to find Jesus,
chipped out of our hearts.
Father Stephen P. Morris