New Podcast Episode – Madeleine’s Basilica in Vézelay – Part 1

Basilique Sainte Madeleine (Vézelay) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

PJ and Dennis Aubrey discuss the famous Basilique Sainte Madeleine in Vézelay, France, one of the greatest Romanesque churches in the world. They have probably spent more time here than in any other church in France and their experiences range from days of perfection in photography to moments of the most personal spiritual reflection.

Links to articles on the Basilique Sainte Madeleine:

Genius and Vézelay
Elle Chante, Pere
The Watcher of Vézelay
The Soul of Genius
Twilight in Vézelay
A Midnight Raid on Vézelay

This podcast can also be found at the following hosting sites along with all of our other previous episodes.


Please listen and if you are so inclined, follow and comment. We are anxious for feedback on this newest Via Lucis venture.

10 thoughts on “New Podcast Episode – Madeleine’s Basilica in Vézelay – Part 1

  1. Dennis and PJ,
    Cecelia and Ilistened (twice) to the wonderful podcast on Vezelay this morning (and we’ll probably listen again and again) because it evoked memories ofone of the most wonderful weekends of our life spent there more than 20 years ago. We arrived on Saturday afternoon to check into our B & B (don’t remember its name, but it’s old and on the left side of that long narrow road about midway up the hill to the basilica). We attended Vespers early that evening with beautiful chants by the nuns and monks (and I recorded a few minutes which I still use in one of my presentations on “Art, Light, and Sound in the Great Medieval Churches of Europe)”.
    Rose early Sunday morning, had a great breakfast there like the one you mentioned in the podcast (wonderful cheese but no ham) and went back to the basilica to wander around and take photos before Mass began while Cecelia saved a couple of seats for us on the front row. There was almost no one else there when we arrived, so you can imagine my surprise when I turned around just before the entrance procession to see the basilica completely full.
    I don’t normally take photos during Mass but we were on the front row and after receiving the Eucharist and returning to our seats I noticed that the celebrant and one of the nuns serving as a Eucharistic Minister were standing side-by-side at the foot of a slanting ray of morning sunlight coming in from above the altar, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to capture the scene with an an available-light photo with my little point-and-shoot 35mm camera. The image is not great from a photgraphic perspective, but the memories it produces every time I see it (and it also is in that presentation I mentioned earlier – together with one of the statue of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the basilica taken before Mass that morning) bring the whole visit back to mind, as did your podcast.
    Thank you for the wonderful work you do and for sharing it with us.
    Jay Fredrich

    1. Jay, what a recollection – both touching and familiar. Comments like this are a big reason that we do what we do, and making contact with people like you and Cecelia is so important to us. We would love to meet you over there some time. We will be there in mid-October, and if there is any chance that you two would be there, what a meeting!

      Jay, are you in Little Rock?

      1. Dennis,
        We are in Little Rock (it’s where I grew up and started my engineering career). After teaching 24 years at the University of Southern Indiana (in Evansville where Cecelia grew up), we retired and returned to LR.
        My last 8 years at USI I developed and taught a course called “Cathedrals and Other Great Churches” which was part of the University. Core Curriculum for undergraduates (and could be taken for graduate credit by students seeking a Master’s degree in Liberal Studies). For undergraduates the course was what we called a “capstone” course that could only be taken after all other elements of the University Core had been completed (which meant that the undergraduates were either juniors or seniors). The course had to be designed and delivered as an interdiscplinary course that demonstrated to students the interrelationships among. Knowledge in various fields. I developed it to be taught in 15 three-hour sessions of which I taught five or six relating to church history, architecture, economics, design and construction. Friends taught (without compensation!) the remaining sessions (a priest friend delivered the session on Spitituality; an Art Department Colleague taught the session on Stained Glass; a friend who was the Program Manager – and had a degree in Music Education – delivered the session on Sacred Sounds; and so forth. Every time the course was offered we included a “field trip” to a great church: the cathedral in Covington, KY; the old and “new”. cathedrals in St. Louis; or the archabbey church at St. Meinrad, IN (including Vespers with the monks). Every time the course was delivered the University gave me a grant to bring in a guest lecturer for a lecture open to the public (two notable speakers were Malcolm Miller on the stained glass at Chartres and jazz musician Willie Ruff (who had grown up in the inner city of Evansville) and.who wrote in his book “Willie and Dwyke” about getting permission to play his instrument in St. Mark’s in Venice at night when he was the only one inside). We arranged for that talk and for him to play as he had at St. Mark’s at one of the inner city churches in Evsnsville.
        There were no exams and no homework for the course, but students were told in advance that 1) perfect attendance was required; 2) a journal was required to be kept ( written in at least once a week relating what they had heard/learned that week in the course to some aspect of their life) and 3) comlete a project (and report to the class) on something that was inspired by what they had learned but had never done before! (no “term papers” allowed!) What a joy to hear the students recount their struggles with sculpture, stained glass, or writing a poem or hymn (instead of slogging through piles of copied crap from Wikipedia or someone else’s research. I copied and retained, in the hope of someday producing s book, some of the best journaj entries.
        In addtion to teaching the course at USI, I taught it twice in England as a summer school course. (Without my friends to help me!, but with visits to six or eight great churches in their place. I was also fortunate to get Peter Gibson, Curator of Stained Glass at York Minster to give us a day-long tour of the Minster and its stained glass workshop where we were able to see one of the great windows being restored.
        The materials from this course are the ones I use in presentations I make to schools, retirement communities, and occasionally civic group (in fact, I was making one the day the fire at Notre Dame occurred). I have 8 PowerPoint-like programs of music and photos from all over Europe called “Sacred Sounds in Sacred Spaces” as well as programs like the one I mentioned yesterday and ones titled “Builders and Their Tools”, “Gold Was the Mortar”, “Faith of Our Fathers”, etc.
        Like you, I more-or-less stumbled into something that has turned into a life wurk! I’ve enjoyed telling you about it and would like to share memories shen you guys return later this year.

      2. Jay, great information on this course … something I would have been all over when a student! So this brings me to an ask .. would you be willing do do an article or two for Via Lucis. We can use the music and photos from your Powerpoint presentations and turn them into articles here. Of course you would keep the copyright, but I think it would be a fascinating addition to our work here and it would give you a forum for your own work. If you could write me back through our contact page and send your email address, I can initiate a private correspondence with you about this.

        Would love to have discussions with you about your adventures and some of the people that you wrote about!

  2. The religious brothers and sisters are not “Augustinian” as you mentioned, they are actually from the “fraternité monastique de Jérusalem”. I visit them occasionally because I like so much this basilica 🙂 Thanks for the great post.

  3. PJ, Always and ever, I keep coming back to your sites! Please know that what you and Dennis have brought to me is so important. I sometimes call myself a third grader pretending I’m in divinity school, but you keep me studying and I thank you sincerely!

    Thinking of Dennis and remembering you both….

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