Chartres 2006
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What the Gargoyle Saw:
Pilgrimage to Chartres hailed as triumph
for Christ the King

Michael J. Matt
The Remnant

HE REALLY IS HIDEOUS! Blackened by time and ominous by design, he wears an expression which is marked by a sort of eerie blend of the comical with the maniacal. Wind and years seem to have done little to soften the baleful pose he strikes day and night, year after year, century after century. And because he was assigned to his lofty post partly to fend off evil spirits, one can almost detect a hint of guilt in his stony scowl at having failed at his fair-weather task. For indeed, he did not put the evil spirits to flight in recent decades; in fact, some seem to have demanded sanctuary in the very places he and his granite regiment were sculpted to guard.

For centuries, Europe itself was like one great Catholic cathedral filled with saints, virgins and martyrs. In the old days, the gargoyles rightfully spewed their gutter grime from high atop flying buttresses down to the ground outside the cathedral walls. Now, however, Europe is more akin to a Catholic museum bursting with tourists, where the Protestantized liturgies therein are so offensive that one could hardly blame a gargoyle for electing to spew the roof water down on the proceedings inside those walls instead. The old faith is so forgotten in the heart of Christendom that even the gargoyles seem ashamed.

From his perch near the Cloucher Neuf (the new tower) of the great gothic cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres one can only imagine what marvels, mysteries and miseries our menacing friend has observed over the years. He was there when the flowers of Christianity bloomed all across Europe and civilized the known world. Before his stony visage, Europe’s greatest popes and bishops and priests made processions and pilgrimages down through the ages of Faith. In the square beneath the spires, our mute witness looked on as royal corteges of kings and queens came to worship God, to see anointed heads crowned, to witness ruling families united in holy matrimony, and to hear Requiems for history’s heroes.
The gargoyle saw it all.

But he was also up there when the Parisian mobs invaded Chartres after 1789. He saw the “citizens” attempt to wreck the relics and the ancient veil of Our Lady which, to this day, is kept in the Chartres cathedral and which was miraculously spared the evil designs of the “liberated” ones. They tried to desecrate the Chartres cathedral just as they’d done to Notre Dame in Paris, where a prostitute—the Goddess of Reason—was stripped naked and laid across the high altar.

The French Revolution—operating under the satanic benediction of the Protestant Revolt—was the inaugural ball for a new administration that would spend the next two centuries trying to drive Christianity from the shores of Catholic Europe.
Think of the myriad horrors our gargoyle must have witnessed since 1789! The necks of Catholic monarchs severed; queens and princes murdered and banished; Catholic thrones toppled; priests and bishops martyred.

Was anyone seriously surprised when the Catholic altars, subjected as they were to the same philosophic erosion that compromised the thrones, finally crumbled and fell into disrepair, as well! And without the twin buttresses of altar and throne to support the steeples of Christendom, it wasn’t long before Catholic culture, Catholic liturgy and the Catholic family began a freefall from the heights of Christendom only to crash-land in the modern world.

Today’s zeitgeist is evil incarnate; it has no more fear of the modern Church than it does of those stone creatures glaring down from cathedral walls. For forty years the world has been forced to bear witness to that zeitgeist’s greatest triumph: Europe—which Hilaire Belloc rightly observed was the Faith—has cast the Faith aside.

Her priests and bishops and nuns have disappeared from her streets; instead of being cradled in loving arms at the baptismal font, millions of her newborn babies are sacrificed at the altar of freedom of choice and women’s rights; and, of course, her myriad pilgrims have been replaced by an endless queue of half-naked tourists. Where once the sound of Gregorian chant reverberated in the stones that kept the walls and the towers and the gargoyles aloft, there is now the weird racket of the New Age, of cameras clicking, and of roaring buses transporting sightseers to famous cathedrals—the elaborate gravestones of Christendom. 

Bedecked in shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops, the tourist parade makes its way unthinkingly across those hallowed sanctuary stones where Charlemagne knelt and Joan of Arc prayed; they shoot their pictures and crane their necks and marvel at these granite milestones that, for whatever reason (they know not why), were erected along the road of man’s “great progress” out from the mists of the “dark ages” and into the “light” of the modern world.

Where saints, kings, and pilgrims once beat their breasts and fingered their beads, there are now so many of those poor souls whom Belloc described as being “convinced by the study of geology and recorded History, that the Catholic Church is but one more example of man’s power of self-delusion.” “Catholic” Europe has become a playground for tourists and a nesting place for pigeons. Her ancient cathedrals stand as silent memorials to a Faith that has fallen into ruin.

The traditional Catholic pilgrim, desolate and somehow out of place as he actually prays inside those cathedrals, is left to decide for himself whether he’s visiting a lost battlefield, a Catholic graveyard or a museum of Catholic history. No matter; what is clear is that Europe is no longer Catholic, and he wonders if the world has any idea what an awful price we all will pay for Europe’s “religious freedom.”

Beneath the Gargoyle’s Gaze

Such were my thoughts in early June this year, when I again had a chance to renew my acquaintance with my old friend the gargoyle at the conclusion of the great Pentecost Pilgrimage of Notre Dame de Chrétienté to Chartres, France. The midday heat was sweltering in the square just outside the cathedral by the time we’d limped into Chartres on Pentecost Monday. A crowd of several thousand pilgrims—not tourists, for a change—prayed in the open air beneath the spires.

Since the cathedral itself holds 8,000 and was filled to capacity with traditional Catholics, another 7,000 of us had to hear Mass from outside her massive walls. It’s true, we longed for the cool stone and shadows of the nave, but, after eleven years of being ushered inside, we—the American Chapter of Our Lady of Guadalupe—were asked to take our turn outside. After eleven years of the best seats in the house, we could hardly complain. MORE>>>


Young people wishing to be sponsored may apply for sponsorship by sending a letter explaining why they attend the traditional Latin Mass, and why they wish to make the pilgrimage to Chartres (please provide age, telephone number and email address as well).

Sponsorship donations and applications for sponsorships may be sent to:

The Remnant Tour Youth Fund
P.O. Box 1117
Forest Lake, MN 55025

Call for more info:

(651) 204-0145


(2006 Report by Michael J. Matt)


(Photo Story of Chartres 2006)


Here, The Remnant contingent leads
the entire column


Traditional Pioneer, Fr. Marchosky, hearing Confessions

Arnaud de Lassus (left)
Chartres Pilgrimage Pioneer

The American Remnant Contingent

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