Monday, June 2, 2008

June 2: Blandina and companions, martyrs at Lyon: the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls

About a decade ago I went to Lyon for the first time. That's going there as opposed to going through there, which happens a lot when you are a Parisian going either to the mountains or to the Mediterranean.

I stayed for a few days with a friend and his family and got the grand tour, or at least the important tour: the arena where the martyrs died (my hosts were fervent Catholics, so I didn't have to do any convincing to get to that site), the neighborhood with a lot of labor history (Lyon is a big textile city), and several foodie locations (Lyon is well known for its cuisine). Also the faculty of Catholic theology (which didn't have a website at the time - I see they now have online learning, too).

The arena of the early Christian martyrs is called l'Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls, and here it is.
To this day, the primate of the French Catholic Church is not the Archbishop of Paris, who does have a special status --I mean, having Notre Dame as your cathedral church does give you a certain je sais exactement quoi-- but the Archbishop of Lyon (which the French do not spell with an "s" at the end, the Brits stuck that on), who is known as le Primat des Gaules, Primate of the Gauls, and that's Gaul in the plural, with an s, just like the name of the amphitheater. This link will tell you (in English) why there are three Gauls and what they are. Or, if you studied Latin as a kid and read Caesar's Bellum Gallicum, even just the first paragraph, you will know the answer.

(Oh, glory be to Godde, I actually made a blog link to something in Latin. Isn't there a special snobby bloggy award for this? ;-))

For more on the martyrs and the who, what, where, when, how, and why of their witness ("martyr" means "witness" in Greek) and their feast day, do visit Grandmère Mimi and Padre Mickey.

Here is some detail of the amphitheater, with a map of it below so you can see what the original was like and what pieces of it endure.

You can see the entrance to the amphitheater. That's where the beasts came out and headed for the Christians.
Blandina has a church named for her in Lyon with both a sculpture on the portal of the church and a stained glass window. She is represented with two large kittehs, er, lions.

Grant us, O Lord of life,
the strength to witness with courage and clarity
as did Blandina and her companions
and to speak to the world
your truth and love,
in Jesus' name.


Paul said...

Thanks for this, Jane!

I believe it was in Lyon that I woke up in a hotel room not only having dreamed in French but still thinking in it. Whether it was Lyon or some other city, I do recall that the big church there is not called the cathedral but the primatial church.

For the Latin link perhaps we could award you the notorious, I mean notable, Ordo Lugdunensis. I made it up, of course, but that's what imagination is for.

I want to visit there again!

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