October 27, 2022
We declared today an official “slug day”. After another leisurely start for breakfast, we decided to go our separate ways and then meet back for a picnic lunch in a park. That gave me an opportunity to tour the Church of Saint Vincent du Paul which is very near our hotel. I plugged the location into my phone and took off on what was to be a seven minute walk. For whatever reason, I kept losing the app, but would then bring it up and would be off again. I was pleased the directions were coming through my earpieces. It seemed the route was convoluted, but I confidently went on. When I finally arrived at my destination, the app had reselected to the bring me to St. Vincent High School, located on a residential street nowhere near the church. I reentered the location and took off again, and again found myself getting lost (is there a pattern here?). Exasperated, I looked up and saw the back of the church I sought. This was the same building I had wondered about as we ate dinner in a street café two nights ago. My thirty minute walk had taken me two minutes from our hotel.
When I looked online, I found The Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul is in the 10th arrondissement (administrative division) of Paris and gives its name to the Quartier Saint-Vincent-de-Paul around it. The church is in the Neo-classical style, and the architect who completed the building was Jacques-Ignace Hittorff, whose other major works included the Gare du Nord railway station where we had arrived in Paris. In the 12th century, the site was originally a Leper Colony, located in a marshy area on the road between Paris and the Basilica of Saint-Denis. It became the home and workplace of Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), who devoted his life to aiding the poor. In 1625 he founded the Congregation of the Priests of the Mission, whose members became known as Lazarists. He also created a congregation known as the Daughters of Charity and in 1638, began a project for aiding abandoned infants. He was beatified in 1729 and canonized as a saint in 1737. The site was occupied by the Congregation of the Mission he had founded until the French Revolution.
During the afternoon we were on our way again, deciding to take lunch to the Jardin Villemin (garden of domestic life). This park was not too far away and sported a children’s playground and one of the few green spaces we had found in Paris. Although the walk was farther than indicated, the trip was well worthwhile. We were able to while our day away with a picnic and conversation. This is what we had wanted, and expected, from our last day in Paris.
THOUGHTS: As we sat in the garden, conversation turned to what part of the trip each of us enjoyed the most. Without a question, we all agreed on the Black Forest. This forest had reminded us of all of places familiar, while providing an aspect of the unknown. One of the things that had struck me about my earlier stay in Petra, Jordan, had been the slickrock canyons that reminded me of my explorations in southeastern Utah. We seem to want to find the familiar to help us relate to the unknown. We do this with people as well, often making fast friends of strangers because they remind us of home. We need to strive to find this aspect of the familiar in everyone we meet. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.