Friday, August 08, 2008

Little Petey's House of Holy Horrors

Cheery looking fellow, isn't he?

So, I was going to the stuffed animal store that specializes in Wild Boars* the other day in order to pick up a gift for my niece for my imminent return home. On my way there, I wandered by the St Pierre le Jeune church. For the first time since I’ve lived here, the doors were open, so I wandered inside.

Mural of the Nations of Europe Marching Towards the Cross. FYI: "Germannia" on her steed was in the lead, poor old Lithuania straggling behind on foot.

I’m sorry I didn’t discover this church earlier – parts of it date from the 4th century, most of the rest from 1250 or thereabouts.** Unlike either of the other major historically important churches in Strasbourg, this one has both a surviving cloister and many Medieval murals surviving inside. For a brief period in the 17th century, it was used by both Protestants and Catholic congregations, who were encouraged to mind their manners through the device of a temporary partition.

The cloister of the former chapter house. One day, when I have a back yard, I'm doing it up like this. Don't tell Amynah.

Anyway, the highlight for me was the secret chamber (well, not so secret as hard to find) with the crypt, a chamber roughly 1500 years old. There’s a small recess in the wall that still contains some poor souls bones. I’m sure he didn’t expect, as he lay on his deathbed, that his mortal remains to be on display for the edification of ghouls like me several centuries later.

Ye Olde Bone Room. That's a vase in the head area of the body-shaped cavity in the floor, and an old stone coffin to the right.

* These people are very serious about their stuffed animals. I went in and asked for a Wild Boar, and the clerk, detecting my lack of facility in French asked (in French) “are you sure you don’t mean a Warthog?” and then producing fuzzy exemplars of both animals so that I could make my choice. They had a remarkable number of species represented with as much anatomical accuracy as the material and intended audience would allow. It was like being in pillowy zoo.

** As you might have surmised from the church's name, there is an even older St Peter's in Strasbourg than this.

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