Monday, July 28, 2014

Medieval Town of Yvoire

The medieval town of Yvoire is one of the most beautiful fishing villages of France located 28 km from Geneva.  It is facing the crystal blue waters of  Lake Geneva or the French call it Lac Leman.
The streets are filled with artists and craftsmen of the Chablais region.
I discovered this adorable antique shop and found an oil painting for my collection
Hanging baskets full of fresh flowers are at every street corner
This walled fishing port dates back to the 14th century.

A french 14th century castle is fun to explore. It was built between 1306 and 1311 by Amadeus V, a famous count of Savoy.  He must have been part of the Savoy family who ruled the Chillon Castle.  It was protected by a moat and a drawbridge. The gardens surrounding the castle are beautiful.display of colorful flowers.
 My favorite place was the church of Saint Pancras.  It dates back from the eleventh century when it was much smaller.  I felt a strong peace as I entered this sacred space built for a fourteen year old martyr who died for his faith in 303,   As a Roman citizen he was asked to perform a sacrifice to the Romans gods.  Diocletian, the emperor of Rome was impressed with the boy's determination to resist so tempted him with wealth and power.  He chose courage and was beheaded for standing up for his savior on May 12th 303 A. D. Pancras is one of the patron saints of children.  He represents innocence and faith in childhood.  His name is from ancient greek and mean "the most powerful."
As I sat in the pew I reflected on my surroundings. 
At the alter was a beautiful painting of Jesus walking on the water.
The story is from Matthew 14:22-33.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.  Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, waking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 
But Jesus immediately said to them; "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 
"Lord save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  
"You of little faith," he said,
"Why did you doubt?"
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those sho were in the boat worshiped him, saying, Truly you are the 

Son of God."
Bridging the Gap as a sacrificial lamb for our sins.
On the ceiling is a mural depicting  14 year old St. Pancras being beheaded for his faith.
Beautiful stain glass tell a story of peace and forgiveness.
The steeple shined like a bright light.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Chillon Castle in Montreux, Switzerland

Chillon Castle overlooks crystal clear blue waters of  Lake Geneva in Switzerland near the border of France.  The Savoy family chose their location on a rocky inlet  nestled under the Alps for protection.  The medieval style lets you imagine Disney films with a princess waving her golden long locks calling for her prince to come.  Three noble families lived in the castle to shape its thousand year history.
The castle is the number one tourist attraction in Switzerland with 330,000 visitors each year.  The French call Lake Geneva Lac Leman.   The lake forms a natural moat with an old drawbridge to raise for defense.  
At first the castle had twenty five little buildings but over time they were connected through passageways.
Deep in the cellar they stored food and supplies in oak barrels.

The castle was located in a perfect place for trade and charged tolls for the chance to carry goods on the routes around the fortress.  The power of controlling supplies to all of Europe gave the families of Chillon stability.  

Supplies were needed to feed guests to the castle at a large banquet.  Peter Savoy built the three spiky towers along the lakeside view.  The Savoy family didn't live at the castle all year because they needed to travel to  make sure their lands were safe.
The Savoy's were in control from 1150 to 1536.  They moved their administration to Chamberly in the 14th century and let the castle be used as a place to store prisoners.     In 1536 the Bernese family came to free the prisoners as in many political changes it was a hope for freedom.    But the castle was still used to hold prisoners.
From the dungeon there was a little window with bars with a view of refreshing Lake Geneva.  Lord Byron made the castle famous by writing a poem from the prisoner's point of view.  
Prisoner of Chillon Castle
There are seven pillars of Gothic mould,
in Chillon's dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh's meteor lamp;
And in each pillar there is a ring,
And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing,
For in these limbs its teeth remain,
With marks that will not wear away,
Till I have done with this new day,
Which now is painful to these eyes,
Which have not seen the sun to rise
For years I cannot count them o'er,
I lost their long and heavy score
When my last brother droop'd and died,
And I lay living by his side.

Lord Byron, 1816
Perhaps the princess of the castle thought of the prisoners below in the cold, dark, damp, lonely dungeon.  She saw the same blue waters from the castle window.  So close but so far from being able to help.  Maybe she sneaked
them food to stay alive as the servants were cooking on an open flame.  As she lay in bed thinking of her day she prayed for the prisoners below sleeping on a hard damp floor of cold stone.  Its not that different today when so many are blessed with safe homes  but know some are less fortunate and must stay in a prison for political injustice.

Imaginations run wild as time intersects the past with reminders of a different era where rulers controlled many subjects.  Each had a task or job to perform to keep the kingdom strong.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 238th Birthday USA

Happy 238th Birthday USA

Our country was founded on divine intervention from people who sought God's will and wanted a better life for their families.


A group of people fled England to the Netherlands for religious freedom.  They were called separatists because their views didn't agree with the Church of England.  It was illegal not to attend the official Church of England and the punishment was prison.  They lived in Holland for several years but felt they were loosing their cultural identity and language.  So the leaders came up with a plan of going to America where they could have their own land, laws, and freedom.  In 1620 one hundred and twenty one men, women and children of faith in a better life stepped upon the Mayflower and Speedwell on a voyage to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  The Speedwell wasn't so speedy and the main beam caused it to crack but they didn't give up.  They sailed on with the Mayflower to the new land.

Land was sighted  on November 9, 1620 after sixty-five days on crowded ships.  Psalm 100 was read as a prayer of Thanksgiving.

"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!  Serve the Lord with gladness.  Come before His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord, He is God;  It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving.  And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good.  His mercy is everlasting.  And His truth endures to all generations.

The Mayflower Compact was created for the general good of the Colony.  It organized them into a body of choice and  was ratified by a majority rule.  John Carver was elected as the first governor to lead the people of the new land.   The Mayflower Compact is known for the seed of democracy and called the first written constitution.

During the cold winter the women laid on top of their children to keep them warm in the night.  Many of the women died but the children lived because of their sacrifice..  Men quickly tried to build shelter.  Half of the pilgrims died the first winter.  But they believed in the call to a land of freedom where they don't have to go to prison for worshiping the way they choose.   Spring came and Squanto and other Indians helped them plant with fish so their crops can grow.  The colony survived and we know it now as Massachusetts.

George Washington

George Washington felt called of God.  In fact the Indians saw he had a profound destiny because their weapons somehow did not kill him.  He traveled ten miles to attend church.  He had private devotions in his library both morning and evening.  A nephew of Washington found him kneeling with an open Bible before him.

Washington's leadership  helped to win the war of Independence from England but after the war he encouraged Americans to believe by quoting

.....the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.
The faith of our founding fathers gave us favor with God.  People are still wanting to come to America for freedom and hope of a better life.  Let us not take for granted we live in the best country in the world.  Happy Birthday USA.