Thursday 23 June 2011

Corpus Christi

Today we'll be celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi at Église Saint-André in the market square in Agde. The church has been in use since the 5th century, but is currently only open once a week for Mass on Thursday mornings (market day). Kneeling on stones that have been trodden and knelt on by more than 1500 years of worshippers is a humbling experience. Église Saint-André was also the venue for the Council of Agde 506AD, at which the 24 Bishops who attended confirmed the Sunday obligation as well as the the practise of tonsure which remained current until Pope Paul VI's reform of minor orders in 1972.

There is a strange cut-out and glass-railed section of the church floor to one side, permanently exposing several layers of archaeological exploration including two stone sarcophagi dating from the fifth century. There are also exposed bones dating from the same period in an alcove (not visible in the photo above). I haven't had a chance to ask our parish priest what the church's take on this is -- they won't have had a lot of choice in whether or not the renovations took place as the church building is owned by the state, and while it is a little strange to be praying mere feet away from the exposed bones of long dead fellow-parishioners, I like to think that they may be joining in with those praying so close to their mortal remains.

Happy Feast Day!

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