Thursday, June 5, 2008

Inclusive church and YSL's funeral

Francophile that I am, I read all the reports about Yves Saint Laurent's funeral today and looked at several dozen news photos.

Picture this in the U.S. (though it would never happen here):

Top fashion designer dies after long suffering from brain tumor and other ailments, at the age of 71.

Fashion Designer was gay and had business and life partner of several decades, older than he.

President of the Republic and (third) Wife, former model who had worked with Fashion Designer, attend funeral, which is conducted with state military honors because Fashion Designer had been recipient of highest state honors, the equivalent of a knighthood.

Funeral is a Roman Catholic Mass.

President and Wife sit with Business-and-Life Partner of Fashion Designer, after meeting him on the steps of the church, embracing him, and offering condolences.

Partner of Fashion Designer sits in front row with President and Madame, and with Mother of Fashion Designer, astoundingly chic and shapely at age 95.

Catholic priest presides at funeral liturgy, acknowledging the relationship of Fashion Designer and Partner. He helps Partner up the steps before the processional, holding him by the hand, and accompanies Partner at the recessional, as the pall-bearers carry the casket toward the door.

Priest is former Diocesan Chaplain to Artists. (Yes, there is such a thing in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Paris.)

Partner of Fashion Designer, President of the Republic, and Madame walk down church steps together.

Partner of Fashion Designer and Fashion Designer had recently entered into a Civil Union (described in France by the acronym PACS).

Among the several eulogies (and yes, there was a proper homily about the Resurrection) are some words from Partner, who speaks of his admiration (admiration) and love (amour) for Fashion Designer. As he walks away from the ambo, weeping, the musicians play Jacques Brel's "The Song of Old Lovers." ("La Chanson des Vieux Amants.")

After the liturgy, when the pall-bearers carry the casket out of the church, the 800 congregants, and 1,000 more people standing in the street, burst into applause, then pause for a moment of silence during the military honor guard, then clap again.

In an interview, a model of African descent praises Saint Laurent for having opened the way for Black women to be fashion models and lauds his sensitivity and love of women.

* * * * * * * *
The news stories said all this. The photos showed all this. (And more, including Catherine Deneuve weeping for her old friend and reading aloud a poem by Walt Whitman, presumably in French translation. But that is not the point of this post.)

Yves Saint Laurent was born in Algeria when it was still a French colony. His body will be cremated and his ashes taken to Algeria's neighboring Maghreb country, Morocco (also a former French colony) where he and his partner Pierre Bergé owned a property in Marrakech. His ashes will reside in a botanical garden, where Bergé says he will join Saint Laurent when his time comes.


Grandmère Mimi said...

Can't see it happening here, either. There was much that I loved about the RCC, but what I loved is being stripped away and discarded, day by day, as the church turns more pinched and puritanical.

FranIAm said...

I am weeping and weeping. Weeping for what happened and weeping what might be.

That is the Kingdom and yes, the Kingdom is really now. In France anyway.

I read Mimi's words and weep more. Am I in a bizarre beautiful bubble here in my corner of the RCC? One that will burst?

Or am I in what might be? Oh let it be the latter, please pray God, let it be the latter.

God rest the soul of Yves and God bless the French church, such as it is.

Paul said...

Vive la France!

The French can still teach the world a few things about civilization.

And yes, Fran, let us hold the vision that the Kingdom you see alive and at work in your corner is a foretaste of what not only might but, by God's grace, will be.

pj said...

France is also a place where a woman can run for president, and come very close to winning, without someone designing a nutcracker based on her. (No link; you all know about the HRC nutcracker I'm sure.)

We will get there, too. Keep hope alive!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Fran, I hate it when I've written words that give you pain. Paul is right. Hold on to the vision of the kingdom that, by God's grace, will come to be. My own words pain me. I speak out of pain.

FranIAm said...

Oh Mimi - no no no! Trust me- my entirely screwed up childhood, many years of therapy and endless doses of grace upon grace have given me the gift of good boundaries.

You do not cause me pain I can assure you!

That the RCC church caused you and others so much pain - that does pain me, but it does so whether or not I read your words.

It is all good in our Kingdom here in blogworld. Pain we must see, confront and experience, but we are loved further into being every moment and out of that grows love if we let it.

And we do!

Ken said...

But it all comes back to politics and a sense of neverending entitlement. France would not come along with us on our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Ergo, the French are ingrate and faggots for having forgotten how many Americans laid down their lives 64 years ago. I actually heard at a Lay Dominicans meeting as long ago as 1999 that the real Roman Catholic Church was in the United States--the land of piety, iron, and the Archbishop of Newark John Myers--because countries like France, Italy, and even Spain were going their ways apart from the Vatican.

St. Laurent's funeral was a beautiful gesture of reconciliation and love what would not be recognizable in the American "real" Roman Church which stopped being small-c catholic a long time ago.

You can't change it, you can only leave it. Bottle of French wine in hand....