French Friday

St Celestine
St Celestine rests in his glass case but the wax is not quite covering the skeleton in places adding to the overall disturbingly macabre look of the relic.

It is Vendredi already?

Last week I put up a photo of a statue at the far end of the garden of Versailles and asked what it was, who carved it and why was it there?

Stature in France (Large)
Where is? Who is it? Who made it? What does it mark?

This statue was carved by Bernini and was originally of Louis XIV on horseback. Louis the XIV took one look at it and exclaimed “beurk” or something similar and had it placed at the furthest end of the gardens as he hated it so much. Eventually  François Girardon the sculptor altered it into an equestrian sculpture of the ancient Roman hero Marcus Curtius. So look out for it next time you are strolling about Versailles. It is at the far end of the Pièce d’eau des Suisses (the Swiss Pond), a forgotten masterpiece.


This week’s picture is of something that is quite unfamiliar to us in Australia but much more recognisable in Europe.

Everywhere we went we saw little (and large) “bits” of saints in various fabulous containers. These astonishing reliquaries contained bones or blood or other dried up remnants of the holy and it was astonishing to still see so many about given that large numbers of relics got consigned to the gutter (or worse in the case of poor St Genevieve) during the French Revolution.

This particular relic of St Celestine is horribly compelling and can be found in St Malo Cathedral. At first I thought is was one of the “Incorruptibles”, those amazing saints whose bodies refuse to decay, but on further inspection I discovered it to be a skeleton covered in wax. I can’t quite work out what the modeller was intending to imply by the facial expression. Peace? Agony? Ennui?

As this is such an unfamiliar thing to me I am afraid I did not feel moved with adoration but rather the need to run out screaming. I have tried to discover more about this Saint’s life, but as there were a few St Celestines, I can’t track him down. Any information greatly appreciated.

Have you seen any relics that made an impression on you while in France?

Bon weekend mes amis!




  1. It is quite compelling although slightly gruesome at the same time. It looks like the modeler was trying to depict ecstasy (extase) rather than peace or agony. Then again sometimes ecstasy can bear a semblance to agony. Bon weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well. I did see the coffin of Napoleon in the Invalids. You have to stand on a sort of a gallery to look at it down below as I recall. My father who is an admirer of Napoleon says it’s to force you to bow to Napoleon. I’m not an admirer of Napoleon so I said it merely made me look down on him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am with you there. I visited his tomb too and felt exactly the same. He basically dragged all Europe into a horrific war for his own self aggrandizement. Sorry to Napoleon addicts out there but although I love France and understand that without Napoleon it wouldn’t be what it is today I am not convinced he was the hero many make him out to be.


  3. I think I am with you on this one TJ, in that I would want to run screaming from that hideous waxy corpse! The expression alone is enough to make my blood run cold, and as for bit of bone sticking out here and there, it sounds like something out of a crime scene! YUCK!

    Liked by 1 person

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