… au reste, après nous, le Déluge


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After France lost the Battle of Rossbach (1757), during the Seven Years’ War, and would lose New France, Madame de Pompadour, the chief mistress of Louis XV, said: “au reste, après nous, le Déluge” (“Besides, after us, the Deluge”).

For France, it was the beginning of the Deluge. After the Seven Years’ War, it was on the brink of bankruptcy, which, as we have seen, led to the meeting of the Estates General. It opened on 5 May 1789, but the French Revolution began two months later, on 14 July 1789, the day the Bastille was stormed.

For the people of New France, it was also the Deluge. New France (see map) was very large, but it had few inhabitants, about 70,000. These were the descendants of 26,000 colonists, but its population would grow.

The current population of Quebec is 8,455,402, 81% of whom are French-speaking. Many immigrants to Quebec are French-speaking North Africans: Blacks and Whites. Several are Algerians and, a large number, Muslims. (See The Population of Quebec, World Population Review.com.)

Madame de Pompadour

Madame de Pompadour was born Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson (29 December 1721 – 15 April 1764) and she was the royal mistress from 1745 to 1751, or from the age of 24 to the age of 30. She had to retire from her role as chief mistress because of health problems. However, she remained Louis XV’s friend and mistress of his heart. She was very influential at court. On 8 February 1756, she was named lady-in-waiting to Marie Leszczyńska, Louis XVI‘s mother.

The marquise was a patroness of the arts and a student of François Boucher. He taught her how to make engravings. She also learned to engrave semi-precious stones, such as onyx. The images shown below are by François Boucher and Pompadour, after gemstone engraver Jacques Guay. (Wiki2.org.) In 1759, our marquise bought a porcelain factory, at Sèvres. (See Madame de Pompadour, Wiki2.org.)

Les Lumières

Not only was the Marquise a patroness of the arts, but she was also a friend of the physiocrates and philosophes of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, no less, as well as its encyclopédistes: Denis Diderot, Jean le Rond d’Alembert

When Madame de Pompadour died of tuberculosis at the age of 42, Voltaire wrote:

I am very sad at the death of Madame de Pompadour. I was indebted to her and I mourn her out of gratitude. It seems absurd that while an ancient pen-pusher, hardly able to walk, should still be alive, a beautiful woman, in the midst of a splendid career, should die at the age of forty-two.”
(See Madame de Pompadour, Wiki2.org.)

“… après nous, le Déluge.”

Love to everyone 💕

 Les Tendres SouhaitsLe Poème harmonique
Claire Lefilliâtre, soprano
Vincent Dumestre, lutenist and founder of the ensemble Le Poème harmonique

Head of a Woman from Behind by François Boucher (WikiArt.org)

© Micheline Walker
26 February 2019






Molière: plots, jealousy & the dénouement


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Young Country Girl Dancing by François Boucher (Photo credit: Wiki2.org.)

I reread chapters of my thesis on Molière‘s (1622 – 1673), a study of the pharmakós in six of Molière‘ comedies, and my article on L’École des femmes.[1] The article is fine. As for my thesis, its chapter on Le Misanthrope requires a few quotations and should be linked to “Le Misanthrope, ou la comédie éclatée,[2] a paper I read at an international conference on the Age of Theatre in France. It was held at the University of Toronto, on 14-16 May 1987.

Following are a few comments on the plot of comedies and farces, on jealousy and the dénouement.

The Plot

  • All’s well that ends well
  • Le Blondin berne le barbon
  • Le Trompeur trompé (the deceiver deceived)
  • Hoist with his own petard

All’s well that ends well is a play by Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616),  which describes comedy in general. The French use the following formula: Le blondin berne le barbon, or The Young Man fools the Old Man. However, there are times when Molière blends the two formulas. One could say that the School for Wives‘ Arnolphe is “hoisted with his own petard” (Shakespeare’s Hamlet) or that he is le trompeur trompé (the deceiver deceived). He raises his future wife, but she marries a young man.

By keeping Agnès inside his house, Arnoldphe believes he is raising a wife who will not be unfaithful. When Arnolphe learns Agnès loves Horace, he does not speak like a lover. He speaks like an accountant. He brought her up, so she owes him. The matter of her debt is discussed. Arnolphe, the blocking character or alazṓn, senex iratus, Miles gloriosus, etc. alienates Agnès. After meeting Horace, she tells Arnolphe that the young man she loves knows how say what pleases her, which is not the case with Arnolphe, the embodiment of jealousy. The School for Wives was first performed at the Palais Royal theatre on 26 December 1662. Comedies promote marriage and pleasure.

Front page of L’École des femmes—engraving from the 1719 edition (Wiki2.org.)



Lui, mais à vous parler franchement entre nous,
Il est plus pour cela, selon mon goût, que vous ;
Chez vous le mariage est fâcheux et pénible,
Et vos discours en font une image terrible :
Mais las ! il le fait lui si rempli de plaisirs,
Que de se marier il donne des désirs.
(Agnès à Arnolphe, 5.iv)

[You did. But, to be frank with you, he is more to my taste for a husband than you. With you, marriage is a trouble and a pain, and your descriptions give a terrible picture of it; but there−he makes it seem so full of joy that I long to marry.]
(Agnès to Arnolphe, V.5, p. 26)

But you ought to have driven away that amorous desire.
(Arnolphe to Agnès, V.5, p. 26)

Le moyen de chasser ce qui fait du plaisir ?
(Agnès à Arnolphe, 5.iv)

[How can we drive away what gives us pleasure?]
(Agnès to Arnolphe, V.5, p. 26)

Vraiment il en sait donc là-dessus plus que vous ;
Car à se faire aimer il n’a point eu de peine.
(Agnès à Arnolphe, 5.iv)

[Of a truth then he knows more about it than you; for he had no difficulty in making himself loved.]
(Agnès to Arnolphe, V.5, p. 26)

Que ne vous êtes-vous comme lui fait aimer ?
(Agnès à Arnolphe, 5.iv)

[Heaven! you ought not to blame me. Why did you not make yourself loved, as he has done? I did not prevent you, I fancy.
(Agnès à Arnolphe, V.5, p. 26)


Le Misanthrope’s Alceste is also jealous. Yet Célimène tells him that she loves him:

Mais, moi, que vous blâmez de trop de jalousie,
Qu’ai-je de plus qu’eux tous, Madame, je vous prie ?
(Alceste to Célimène, 2.iv)

[But, madam,
What have I more than all of them, I pray you?
—I, whom you blame for too much jealousy!]
(Alceste to Célimène, II.1)

Le bonheur de savoir que vous êtes aimé.
Célimène à Alceste, 2.i)
[The happiness of knowing you are loved.]
(Célimène to Alceste, II.1)

Célimène is ready to marry Alceste, but he refuses…  He hates what he loves. (5, scène dernière) (V .7)

Molière and Pierre Corneille (Getty images)

The Dénouement

The role Philinte plays has often been described as that of the raisonneur. When I studied Molière as an undergraduate, Philinte was the raisonneur. More recent scholarship opposes the alazṓn to the eirôn (as in ironic) in a form of contest called agôn (as in protagonist, antagonist, and agony). Normally, the alazṓn is defeated, but not necessarily ousted. In The Misanthrope (1665), no one is ousted, but all characters leave the stage. I am reading Gabriel Conesa’s Le Dialogue moliéresque, seeking information on the dialogue between Philinte and Alceste (1.i), in Le Misanthrope.[3]

We have a raisonneur[4] in The Misanthrope: Philinte. When Alceste reveals that civility does not allow him to know whether what praise he hears is mere flattery the truth, a mask falls. He is vain and not a raisonneur. The dialogue between Alceste and Philinte allows us to know the real Alceste (I.i.). As for his dialogue with Célimène, (II.1) it reveals insecurity, inquiétude. As we have seen in Portraits of the Misanthrope, Philinte’s flegme (his calmness) allows him to enjoy the world, however flawed. He is the eirôn, but also, a raisonneur. Alceste, as lover, is conflicted. The agôn, the contest opposing the alazṓn and the eirôn, takes place within him. How can there be a dénouement?

The plot of this comedy is circular. I have therefore suggested that although there is a dramatis personæ, comedic functions have been fused, blurring distribution: blocking character, alazṓn, senex iratus (crazy old man) the young lovers and the eirôn (Philinte as raisonneur). This would suggest the total absence in Molière’s Misanthrope of tragedy’s catharsis. No one can be removed.

However, Molière’s Tartuffe (1664-1669), features a pharmakós (as in pharmacy). Tartuffe, the hypocrite, is led to prison by an officer: l’Exempt. (Tartuffe.pdf) He is saved by “un Prince ennemi de la fraude.” (V, Scène dernière), (“Our prince is not a friend to double-dealing[.]” Tartuffe). Yet, Tartuffe was empowered by Orgon who was empowered by Tartuffe.[6] Orgon adopts Tartuffe so he, Orgon, can be a family tyrant with impunity or sin without sinning (casuistry).[7] The dénouement is not a genuine cleansing. Therefore, Tartuffe is a pharmakós, a scapegoat.

Comedies where the young lovers fool the blocking character and marry suggest a healthier society, the society of the play. Famous examples are The Would-be Genleman, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670), and Le Malade imaginaire (1673), The Imaginary Invalid. These are classified as comédies-ballets. The music for The Imaginary Invalid was composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

You may know that Le Malade imaginaire was first performed on 10 February 1673. Molière suffered from tuberculosis. He collapsed on the stage on 17 February 1673, during the fourth performance of Le Malade imaginaire. He fainted when he was removed from the stage. He was hemorraging. He died a few hours later.

However, let us return to Tartuffe where “all’s well that ends well.”  Mariane will marry Valère.


Sources and Resources

(Notes 1 & 2 refer to material that should be included in a longer text.)

[1] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, “L’Échec d’Arnolphe: lois du genre, ou faille intérieure?,”Papers on French Seventeenth Century Literature, 11nº 20 (1984), 79-92.
[2] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, “Le Misanthrope ou la comédie éclatée,” in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds, L’Âge du théâtre en France/The Age of Theatre in France (Edmonton: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988), 53-63. ISBN 0-920980-30-9
[3] Gabriel Conesa, Le Dialogue moliéresque (Paris: CEDES, 1992) (narratives)
[4] Harold Knutson, “Yet another last word on Molière raisonneur, Theatre Survey, 22, nº1 (1981), 125-140.
[5] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, “Le Misanthrope ou la comédie éclatée.
[6] Casuistry, or how to sin without sinning (michelinewalker.com)

Love to everyone  💕


Claire Lefilliâtre chante Plaisir d’amourLe Poème harmonique

Portrait of Molière by Pierre Mignard, ca. 1658 (Google Art Project)

© Micheline Walker
24 February 2019

Portraits of the Misanthrope


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Alceste by Edmond Geffroy


ALCESTE, in love with Célimène
PHILINTE, friend of Alceste
ORONTE, in love with Célimène
ELIANTE, Célimène’s cousin
ARSINOE, friend of Célimène
ACASTE, a marquis
CLITANDRE, a marquis
BASQUE, Célimène’s servant
AN OFFICER of the Marshals’ Court
DUBOIS, Alceste’s valet

The Scene is at Paris

Alceste vs Philinte

In act I, scene 1 of The Misanthrope, Alceste, the misanthrope, claims that court is filled with people who praise a person, but find fault with the same person the moment he or she leaves. He is angry with his friend Philinte who has been courteous with a person he barely knows. Were he Philinte, he would hang himself.

Go to, you ought to die for very shame!
Such conduct can have no excuse; it must
Arouse abhorrence in all men of honour.
I see you load a man with your caresses,
Profess for him the utmost tenderness,
And overcharge the zeal of your embracings
With protestations, promises, and oaths;
And when I come to ask you who he is
You hardly can remember even his name!
Your ardour cools the moment he is gone,
And you inform me you care nothing for him!
Good God! ’tis shameful, abject, infamous,
So basely to play traitor to your soul;
And if, by evil chance, I’d done as much,
I should go straight and hang myself for spite.
(Alceste to Philinte, I.1)
(French 1.i)

Philinte is an honnête homme. He would not tell an ageing Émilie, la vieille Émilie, that the manner in which she uses makeup (le blanc) and behaves (faire la jolie) does not suit an ageing woman:

Quoi ! vous iriez dire à la vieille Émilie
Qu’à son âge il sied mal de faire la jolie,
Et que le blanc qu’elle a scandalise chacun ? (1.i)

[What! would you tell old Emilie
that ’tis unbecoming at her age to play the pretty girl;
or that the paint she wears shocks every one?
Le Misanthrope (I, i)]

The Portrait Scene

http://fresques.ina.fr/jalons/fiche-media/InaEdu05426/le-misanthrope-de-moliere.html (the portrait scene [II, 4], video) FR


ACT II, Scene 5 (EN) 2.iv (FR)

Ironically, Alceste is in love with Célimène who enjoys depicting the ills of others. She does so to entertain those who admire her. Célimène is a charming twenty-year-old widow seeking attention and pleasure. In seventeenth-century France, young, and not-so-young, widows were privileged. They could choose to marry or not to marry, and, if they chose to marry, they married a person whom they loved, not a spouse imposed on them by a greedy father.

Her portrait of Alceste is that of a man who is very contrary.

Must not the gentleman needs contradict?
What! Would you have him think like other people,
And not exhibit, in and out of season,
The spirit of gainsaying he’s endowed with?
Others’ opinions are not fit for him,
And he must always hold the opposite,
Because he’d fear to seem like common mortals,
If he were caught agreeing with anyone.
The glory of contradiction charms him so
He often takes up arms against himself
And falls to combating his own beliefs
If he but hears them from another’s lips.
(Célimène to everyone, II.5)

[L’honneur de contredire, a, pour lui, tant de charmes,
Qu’il prend, contre lui-même, assez souvent, les armes ;
Et ses vrais sentiments sont combattus par lui,
Aussitôt qu’il les voit dans la bouche d’autrui.
(Célimène à tous, 2.iv)]

Given his view of society, a world where everyone speaks ill of others, Alceste’s love for Célimène, is incongruous. Destiny has been unkind to him. However, although he is contrary, he does not criticize Célimène in the portrait scene (2.iv). He turns to her admirers and blames them.

Pourquoi s’en prendre à nous ? Si ce qu’on dit, vous blesse,
Il faut que le reproche, à Madame, s’adresse.

[But why blame us? If what is said offends you,
You must address your censures to the lady.

Pour moi, je ne sais pas ; mais j’avouerai, tout haut,
Que j’ai cru, jusqu’ici, Madame sans défaut.

De grâces, et d’attraits, je vois qu’elle est pourvue ;
Mais les défauts qu’elle a, ne frappent point ma vue.

‘Tis not for me to say; still, I’ll declare
That hitherto I’ve found the lady faultless.

I find her full of graces and attractions;
But as for faults, I haven’t seen them yet.

In short,

Les rieurs sont pour vous, Madame, c’est tout dire ;
Et vous pouvez pousser, contre moi, la satire.

[You (Célimène) have the laughers, madam, on your side;
That’s saying everything. On with your satire!

Éliante’s Tirade 

But Alceste loves Célimène and will not criticize her. Éliante, Célimène’s cousin who is very fond of Alceste, tells everyone that persons who are in love do not find faults in the person they love. If a woman is fat, her “carriage” is “majestic.” One likes what could be considered a disadvantage in the eyes of a person who is not “in love.”

[Love is but little subject to such laws,
And lovers always like to vaunt their choice.
Their passion can find naught in her to blame,
For in the loved one, all seems lovable.
They count her faults perfections, and invent
Sweet names to call them by. The pallid maiden
Is like a pure white jasmine flower for fairness;
The frightful dark one is a rich brunette;
The lean one has a figure lithe and free;
The fat one has a fine majestic carriage
The dowdy, graced with little charm, is called
A careless beauty; and the giantess
Appears a goddess to adoring eyes.
The dwarf is deemed a brief epitome
Of heaven’s miracles; the haughty maiden
Is worthy of a crown; the cheat is clever;
The silly dunce, so perfectly good-hearted;
The chatterbox, so pleasantly vivacious;
The silent girl, so modest and retiring.
Thus does a lover, whom true passion fires,
Love even the faults of her whom he admires.
(Éliante to everyone, II.5)
(French 2.iv)]

A first reading of Éliante’s tirade may lead to believe Éliante’s tirade excludes Alceste. In act II, scene 1, when Alceste is alone with Célimène, he finds fault with the company Célimène keeps. Alceste and Célimène are alone. Alceste’s belaviour is not courteous. (2.i)

C’est pour me quereller, donc, à ce que je voi,

Que vous avez voulu me ramener chez moi ?

Je ne querelle point ; mais votre humeur, Madame,

Ouvre, au premier venu, trop d’accès dans votre âme ;
Vous avez trop d’amants, qu’on voit vous obséder,
Et mon cœur, de cela, ne peut s’accommoder.

So—’twas to scold at me, apparently,
That you were kind enough to bring me home?

I am not scolding. But your humour, madam,
Gives any and everyone too easy access
Into your heart. You have too many lovers
Besieging you—a thing I can’t endure.

Alceste is jealous. Yet, Éliante’s tirade is about all lovers, including Alceste.

C’est ainsi, qu’un amant, dont l’ardeur est extrême,
Aime, jusqu’aux défauts des personnes qu’il aime.

[Thus does a lover, whom true passion fires,
Love even the faults of her whom he admires.
(Éliante to everyone, II.5)]

Alceste is as Éliante says: blinded by love. As for Alceste, he is vain, which leads him to criticize civil behaviour, because he has no way of knowing whether praise of him is genuine praise or more politeness. He is yet another vaniteux inquiet, vain but uncertain, as Paul Bénichou[1] correctly identifies flawed humanity in Molière’s plays. Moreover, Alceste is rigid, which, according to Henri Bergson, generates laughter. (See Laughter, Wiki2.org.)

Quel avantage a-t-on qu’un homme vous caresse,
Vous jure amitié, foi, zèle, estime, tendresse,
Et vous fasse de vous, un éloge éclatant,
Lorsque au premier faquin, il court en faire autant ?
(Alceste 1.i)

[What use is it to have a man embrace you,
Swear friendship, zeal, esteem, and faithful love,
And loudly praise you to your face, then run
And do as much for any scamp he meets?
(Alceste I.1)]

Sur quelque préférence, une estime se fonde,
Et c’est n’estimer rien, qu’estimer tout le monde.
(Alceste 1.i)

[Real love must rest upon some preference;
You might as well love none, as everybody.
(Alceste I.1)]


Le Misanthrope is a problematic play. Célimène would marry Alceste, but she would not follow him into a desert, a refuge in seventeenth-century France. She is too young.

Moi, renoncer au monde, avant que de vieillir !
Et dans votre désert aller m’ensevelir !
(Célimène, 5, scène dernière)

[What, I renounce the world before I’m old,
And go be buried in your solitude!
(Celimene, V, last scene)]

Yet, the curtain falls on a marriage. Éliante will marry Philinte. Both follow Alceste, so everyone leaves the stage. The curtain falls and nobody is laughing. True to Célimène’s portrait of him, Alceste has taken up arms against himself. Alceste who loves Célimène, who loves him, refuses to marry her.

Moreover, although Alceste is rigid, he shares Philinte’s views, but he will not be tolerant and calm. He will be angry (bile).

Je veux qu’on soit sincère, et qu’en homme d’honneur
On ne lâche aucun mot qui ne parte du cœur.
(Alceste 1.i)

[Be genuine; and like a man of honour
Let no word pass unless it’s from the heart.
(Alceste I.1)]

Je prends, tout doucement, les hommes comme ils sont,
’accoutume mon âme à souffrir ce qu’ils font;
Et je crois qu’à la cour, de même qu’à la ville,
Mon flegme est philosophe, autant que votre bile.
(Philinte 1.i)

[I quietly accept men as they are,
Make up my mind to tolerate their conduct,
And think my calmness is, for court or town,
As good philosophy as is your choler.
(Philinte I.1)]



Structurally, Alceste, as a character, combines several comedic functions. He is the heavy father (the alazôn of Greek comedy) who opposes the marriage of young lovers. But he is also the innamorati of the commedia dell’arte and Atellane farce, not to mention the young lover of Greek Old Comedy (Aristophanes). Finally, he is the eirôn, a role he shares with Philinte. He is all three stock characters of farces. However, Molière’s Misanthrope is not a farce. Or is it? The Misanthrope is une grande comédie (five acts, alexandrine verses [12 syllables], the court). The play also contains “mirrors.” Arsinoé, the prude, is Célimène as she could be at an older age.[2]

This is incomplete, but allow me to quote our colleague David Nicholson (17 February 2019): “Molière’s plays are classics because their themes are universal; they’re at home across oceans and centuries.”


Sources and Resources


[1] Paul Bénichou, Morales du Grand Siècle (Paris : Gallimard, 1948), pp. 295-296.

[2] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, LE MISANTHROPE, ou la comédie éclatée, in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du Théâtre en France/The Age of Theater is France (Edmonton: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988), pp. 53-61.

Love to everyone  💕

Bruno Procopio plays François Couperin‘s Barricades mystérieuses (The Mysterious Barricades)

© Micheline Walker
20 February 2019

A Last Opportunity


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Lysandre by Edmond Geffroy (my collection)

A Short Book

There are indications I will not live eternally, but I have an unfinished project: publishing a book on Molière.

This goal may be unrealistic. However, I will not be given another chance. It will be a short book and I may not have reviewed recent literature on the subject as thoroughly as I would like to. Yet, I wrote a PhD thesis on Molière, and a PhD thesis is a scholarly venture. Moreover, I was expected to “dust it off,” a thesis is a thesis, and publish it.

Dusting it off is what I plan to do. In other words, it will not sound too scholarly. I will quote fellow moliéristes, but will focus on my findings.

L’Avare (www.gettyimages.fr)

Problematic Plays

  • Tartuffe, 1664 – 1669
  • Dom Juan, 1665
  • Le Misanthrope, 1666
  • L’Avare, 1668

Were it not for the intervention of a second father, the young couples in L’Avare (The Miser), 1668, could not marry. They would be at the mercy of Harpagon’s greed.

Matters are worse in Tartuffe1664 -1669. Were it not for the intervention of the king, not only would the young lovers not marry, but Orgon’s family would be ruined. In The Misanthrope,1666Alceste is his own worst enemy. In Dom Juan, 1665, Dom Juan is removed by a deus ex machina and he has left Elvira, his wife.


Chapters may resemble Molière’s “L’Avare: Doublings, a post. This post is informative, but not too scholarly. It also illustrates my main finding. In Molière’s plays, the young lovers cannot marry without an intervention, or putting on a play (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme). In L’Avare, they are saved by a second father: doublings. Molière uses stage devices, such as a deus ex machina, to save the society of the play.

Therefore, if a blocking character is removed, he is a pharmakos (a scapegoat).

L’Avare, 1668, (The Miser) is rooted in Roman playwright Plautus‘ Aulularia. Plautus died in 184 BCE. Molière’s miserly father is a Shylock (The Merchant of Venice, c. 1600, by Shakespeare). There are misers in the commedia dell’arte, and Molière knew the stock characters of the commedia dell’arte. Comedy has a tradition. Greek playwright Aristophanes is considered its father. Molière also wrote farces. These date back not only to medieval France, but to the Atellane farces, which featured stock characters, as does the commedia dell’arte.

Conclusion & remerciements

I feel very young, but time goes by so quickly. It would please me to tell more about Molière, but it has to be now. It’s my last chance and there you are, supporting me.

I wish to thank a very kind gentleman who sent me images of Colette‘s La Chatte by Raoul Dufy.


Je vous remercie bien sincèrement d’avoir pensé à moi. Ces dessins de Dufy me font plaisir. Votre générosité m’a beaucoup touchée.

Colette a eu une « dernière chatte », et j’ai, pour ma part, une dernière occasion.

Love to everyone  💕


Marc-Antoine Charpentier — Te  Deum

Elmire (Tartuffe) by Tammy  Grimes (my collection)

© Micheline Walker
16 February 2019







A Chartreux portrayed, etc …


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Dear friends,

I have not been able to write due to various house chores. I haven’t quite finished settling down. In the past, I settled into a home in a matter of days. This time, I will have to hire professionals. How humbling!

You may remember that I lost my voice on 11 December. It has now returned, but it is different. X-rays revealed advanced emphysema. I could not believe my doctor. Two thirds of my lungs have turned into a dry sponge. I have never smoked.

I can breathe ‘normally,’ so no treatment is necessary.

However, I am losing my driver’s license: myalgic encephalomyelitis, not emphysema, although the two could be linked. I had a long career as a driver.

I bought an apartment located close to a little market. Just in case…  The little market has everything I need. I have been told I qualified for a service dog, but Belaud said no.


My cat Belaud was delighted when I discovered a painting featuring a chartreux sitting on a lady’s lap: artistic roots. French poet Joachim du Bellay had a chartreux named Belaud. When his Belaud died, he wrote an extroardinary epitaph entitled Sur la mort de Belaud. As you know, I share my home and life with a cat named Belaud. Belaud is a pure-bred French chartreux. I named my chartreux after Joachim du Bellay‘s Belaud. Du Bellay’s Sur la mort de Belaud is a long poem I would not attempt to translate.

Belaud Portrayed & Elevated

  • literary roots
  • artistic roots

Belaud has literary roots, but the J. Paul Getty Museum has a painting featuring a dignified lady, nose up, holding her precious chartreux. Artist Jean-Baptiste Perronneau (French, 1715 – 1783) is not as prominent a figure as Joachim du Bellay, but we owe him the portrait of a chartreux, and images are immediate. Upon analysis, we may find that a picture is complex, but in the case of Perronneau’s portrait, we know we are seeing a lady, Magdaleine Pinceloup de la Grange, holding her beloved cat, a chartreux.

Because of this portrait, chartreux have acquired greater stature. A cat protrayed is a thousand cats. Moreover, Jean-Baptiste Perronneau depicted a chartreux sitting in the lap of the distinguished madame Pinceloup de la Grange. I told Belaud that a portrait of a chartreux had surfaced. “Well, mother,” said Belaud, “I knew. We cats research our ancestry.” Mme Pinceloup de la Grange’s chartreux could indeed be Belaud’s ancestor. However, my Belaud does not wear a collar because he is not a threat to birds. He would love to be hired to chase away various rats, “gros rats.” In fact, one gentleman offered him a lucrative contract: “toxicity” said the gentleman, “toxicity! It will be the Black Death all over again.” The gentleman died a few weeks later.

Given their profession, chasing rats, chartreux are large and very robust cats. Fearing the cold, they wear two coats of fur. I should also mention that they enjoy sitting with their legs extended forward and that they sometimes cross their legs, as though they were dogs, or human beings. They may be referred to as blue cats, but they are grey cats. The light, however, may make their fur appear blue and even mauve.

The chartreux and their British Blue relatives have a round face, large cheeks, a permanent smile and yellow to copper eyes. I should also tell you that Chartreux are very quiet. Legend has it that their silent owners, Carthusian monks, taught them silence. Belaud purrs, but he is otherwise absolutely silent. A long time ago, I read they were brought to France by crusaders. Were Carthusians crusaders?


Joachim du Bellay by Jean Cousin (Google)

The Literary Belaud

  • La Pléiade
  • the carpe diem
  • the Vernacular

Du Bellay’s epitaph on Belaud is very long, but very rich.  Besides, Du Bellay is a better-known figure than monsieur Perronneau. He was a member of La Pléiade, a group of stellar poets who are the fountainhead of poetry in French. Poet Pierre de Ronsard (11 September 1524 – 27 December 1585) was a prince of poets, un prince des poètes, which is not insignificant, but he is famous for a carpe diem poem. In one of his Sonnets pour Hélène, he enjoins Hélène to love him dès aujourd’hui, as of today, life being so short. There was an Hélène whose gentleman friend had died in a war. She was not in the least interested in Ronsard, but Ronsard’s poem is unforgettable.

Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain :
Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.

Sonnets pour Hélène, 1578

Robert Herrick wrote in a similar vein:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.

As for Du Bellay’s poetry, it is eminently quotable. Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage is perfection, but Du Bellay’s place and fame in literature rest mainly on his Défense et illustration de la langue française, 1549, considered the Pléiade’s manifesto. The Renaissance was a moment of effervescence. Greek scholars and artists had fled the Byzantine Empire when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed the Conqueror, on 30 May 1453. Hence, Du Bellay’s reference to Ulysses /Odysseus.

Italy was the first refuge of Greek scholars. As for painters, Christians, they fled to Russia, carrying icons. Constantinople had been a Holy See for Eastern Christianity. We know about the Great East/West Schism, 1054. The Vatican is Western Christianity’s Holy See. The Eastern Church would have several Holy Sees, called Synods.

The arrival in Italy of Greek scholars may have led scholars to look to Antiquity and learn Greek. The Renaissance, however, saw the emergence of the vernacular, the mother tongue.

Du Bellay promoted the vernacular, French in his case. He was inspired by Italian author Sperone Speroni’s Dialogo delle lingue, 1542. Speroni was a friend and supporter of Venetian-language playwright Angelo Beolco (el Ruzante). However, the greater supporter of the vernacular was Pietro Bembo (20 May 1470 – either 11 January or 18 January). Bembo championed the use of Italian by poet Petrarch (20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374). Predecessors were Dante Alighieri (c. 1265 – 1321), the author of the Divine Comedy, written in the vernacular, and Giovanni Boccaccio (16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375), the author of the Decameron, written in the Florentine language.

A British Blue (Tumbler)

La Querelle du chartreux et du “bleu” britannique

  • le chartreux
  • le Bleu britannique
  • le chat de France

Chartreux are often compared to British blue cats. There is a resemblance, but the two breeds differ. The snout of British Blues does not point forward as much as the snout of chartreux. Consequently, British Blues have rounder faces and larger jowls. Belaud’s face is round, but his jowls are not as prominent as the jowls of his British cousins.

I was able to gather precious information about Chartreux and British Blues. My very bilingual Scottish friend, Francis, was hired to go between English-speaking Winston Churchill and Charles De Gaulle, who spoke French, as D-Day was planned. How did Francis survive being a go-between to such men? De Gaulle would not always agree with Churchill and he communicated with the Free French Forces, Forces françaises libres which he led beginning on 28 June 1940. L’appel du 18 juin (1940), a radio broadcast, the BBC, gave hope to the French. France had defenders: the United States and the British Empire. Churchill was at times livid, said Francis, discreetly. We have learned since that De Gaulle told the Forces françaises libres that Paul Verlaine’s Chanson d’automne would be used in the planning of D-Day. Verlaine is un prince des poètes, but Chanson d’automne was a code.

Obviously, sharing the code was dangerous, but I wonder whether Francis had a role to play in the Querelle des Chartreux et des Bleus britanniques. He would not have told me.  But truth me told, a querelle des chats took place in the thick of a devastating war. The British wanted to mix the Chartreux with the British Blue and De Gaulle would not allow the national cat of France simply to vanish. Later, Yvonne, De Gaulle’s wife, gave her husband a chartreux which le général called Gris [grey]-Gris. Gris-Gris probably had an aristocratic name, but le général called him Gris-Gris. Gris-Gris followed De Gaulle from room to room.

Writers Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, and Charles Baudelaire also adopted a chartreux. Belaud’s mother was a Sidonie de… I cannot remember the rest of her name, but his father was Tennessee. The cat she called la dernière chatte (the last cat), was no doubt a chartreux.

This post is a shameful coq-à-l’âne (jumping from one subject to another).  The coq-à-l’âne had a terrible reputation, but now that marginalia is all the rage, I’m saved. However, I will close proudly as Belaud is all over this post, un fil conducteur, a link, carrying weight.

A Happy Valentine’s Day  

(See Posts on Love Celebrated)

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg

Je ne pourrai pas vivre sans toi – Maurane et Michel Legrand


A Belaud, identical (Google)

© Micheline Walker
14 February 2019

Ilya Repin’s Horse


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Horse by Ilya Repin (Wikiart.org.)

Repin’s Horse

The horse featured above is an artwork by one of Russia’s foremost portraitists, Ilya Repin (5 August [O.S. 24 July] 1844 – 29 September 1930). No date is given and I haven’t found a signature. We do not know when Horse was completed. Nor do we know whether Repin wanted this work to be shown.

It is lovely, but it differs from other paintings by Repin. To my knowledge, the colour indigo was not used to depict horses in 19th-century Russia. Nor were blues, greens, and turquoise, a mixture. The background, sand with a golden hue, is almost traditional. It could be used as the background to a portrait. However, in Horse, the background is primarily flat. Moreover, were it not for a larger number of gold-coloured speckles in the sand, in the lower part of the painting, Repin would not have ‘sat’ his horse. You may have noticed also that Repin’s horse does not cast a shadow and that its snout as well as its lower legs are ‘interrupted.’ We are therefore reminded of Japonism and childhood. Horse is classified as a realist work of art. It is a realist work of art in as much as we know the figure it portrays is a horse, but the horse is of a different colour.

“A Moral Social Purpose”

In 1878, Repin joined the Society of the Peredvizhniki or Itinerant’s Society, which can be traced back to the “Rebellion of the Fourteen,” when 14 young artists left the school after refusing to paint mythological paintings for their diplomas. “In 1891 he resigned from the Itinerants’ Society in protest against a new statute that restricted the rights of young artists.” (See Ilya Repin, Wiki2.org. & Ilya Repin, Wikiart.org.)

However, Repin was not a rebel. By and large, he followed in the footsteps of his teacher, Ivan Kramskoi. He may have been influenced by Ivan Bunakov, with whom Repin’s father helped him apprentice. With Bunakov, a local icon painter, “he restored old icons and painted portraits of local notables through commissions.” (See Wiki2.org.) However, although he was familiar with impressionism, and “admired some impressionist techniques, especially their depictions of light and color, he felt their work lacked moral social purpose, key factors in his own art.”

A Portrait Artist

“Repin had a set of favorite subjects, and a limited circle of people whose portraits he painted. But he had a deep sense of purpose in his aesthetics, and had the great artistic gift to sense the spirit of the age and its reflection in the lives and characters of individuals.”
(See Ilya Repin, Wiki2.org.)

Repin was a portraitist, though not exclusively. Philanthropist and art lover and collector Pavel Tretyakov, a patron of Repin, expressed a need for depictions of his contemporaries. Repin’s portrait of composer Modest Mussorgsky (21 March 1839 – [16 O.S..] 28 March 1881), one of the Five, is unforgettable. It was painted shortly before the composer’s death. Mussorgsky’s family lost half of its estate in 1861, the year serfs were emancipated, which precipitated a crisis. Mussorgsky also joined a group indulging in an “intense worship of Bacchus.” (See Modest Mussorgsky, Wiki2. org.). Alcoholism destroyed him. This portrait suggests compassion on the part of Repin.

Ilya Repin‘s celebrated portrait of Mussorgsky, painted 2–5 March 1881, only a few days before the composer’s death (Wiki2.org.)

The Common People

Repin’s “paintings show his feeling of personal responsibility for the hard life of the common people and the destiny of Russia.” (See Ilya Repin, Wiki2.org.)

Repin’s Barge Haulers on the Volga may well be his most famous comment on the life of “the common people.” The barge haulers were called burlaks and attracted Repin’s attention between 1870 and 1873. They resembled convicted men condemned to row galleys.

The industrial revolution may have liberated the barge haulers, but if it did, liberation was probably achieved in the manner serfs were emancipated. Many former serfs had to pay for the land they had tilled and had fed them. Former serfs were also employed in factories where they worked 15 hours a day, which I suspect was the fate of burlaks. (See Bloody Sunday, Wiki2.org.)


Barge haulers on the Volga by Ilya Repin, 1873 (Russian Museum and Wikiart.org)

Burlak by Ilya Repin, 1870-1873 (Wikiart.org.) 

1902 Song of the Volga Boatmen record by Feodor Chaliapin  

The Penates, Finland

In 1872, Repin married Vera Shevtsova. His marriage lasted ten years. Natalia Nordman (14 December 1863 – 30 June 1914) was “the love of Repin’s life.” (See Wikiart.org.) They lived in her house, called Penaty (the Penates), in Kuokkala, Finland. According to Wikiart.org., Repin designed and built the Penates (See Wikiart.org.). I am therefore confused. However, the common denominator is that Ilya Repin and Natalia Nordman-Severova lived at the Penates. On Wednesday, the couple received guests. Repin made sketches of their guests and Natalia Nordman was the keeper of the album. The Album is entitled Portrait from the Album of Natalia Nordman-Severova.


The Penates, the Repin House-Museum in Kuokkala, now Repino, Saint Petersburg (Wiki2.org.)


Repin chronicled a golden age: Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, the Five, Ilya Repin, Isaac Levitan, Alexei Savrasov. Yet it was a bleak world. Russia was at a turning-point. Peasants had lived in communes, the Mir, but the industrial age would impair the Emancipation of Serfdom, 1861. As noted, several former serfs worked in factories, where working conditions were unacceptable. Building a railroad could be the source of enormous wealth for Russians who had money to invest, but did former serfs have money?

So Horse makes sense. It is fanciful, but not too fanciful. In fact, it is little more than, as noted above, a horse of a different colour. However, horses of a different colour may constitute not a new, but a gentler reality.


Sources and Ressources


Love to everyone and apologies for a lenghty absence. 💕


One must watch the video on YouTube. Click on rendez-vous.


Natalia Nordman (Wiki2.org)

© Micheline Walker
2 February 2019









We had fallen, but we were redeemed


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Fallen Angel by Alexandre Cabanel, 1847 (Wiki2.org.)

I would like to direct you to Silence – an Advent Quest – Silent Night (Silkannthreades)

I read this post and other Advent posts from Silkannthreades in December 2018. They were inspiring. I remembered childhood. We waited through Advent and then attended Midnight Mass. The choir always sang Silent Night.

Silent Night has a story.

In our eyes, a child was born to Mary and Joseph, but unlike other children, He was God the Son. After Mass, we put a porcelain figure of Jesus in his crib. For us, He was born at midnight, as in Minuit, chrétiens (O Holy Night).

We had fallen, but we were redeemed.

I can still hear the silence.

Love to everyone 💕

Hector BerliozL’Enfance du Christ


Adoration of the Shepherds by Dutch painter Matthias Stomer, 1632 (Wiki2.org.)

© Micheline Walker
22 January 2019


The Eastern Church: Intuition vs Reason


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Michelangelo‘s painting of the sin of Adam and Eve from the Sistine Chapel ceiling (Wiki2.org.)


bold letters are mine, except anamnesis

I may have used the word anamnesis in an earlier post. Human beings have created mythologies in an attempt to make sense of their origin and their human condition. We are mere mortals. (See Christian Mythology, Wiki2.org.)

“In philosophyanamnesis is a concept in Plato‘s epistemological and psychological theory that he develops in his dialogues Meno and Phaedo, and alludes to in his  Phaedrus.”

“It is the idea that humans possess innate knowledge (perhaps acquired from birth) and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us.”

Mythologies: the Fall

There are links between mythologies, which suggests a cross-cultural knowledge “within us.” The flood is one. However, the more frequent link is the theory of a fall from a more perfect state to a less perfect state, a fall we remember. John Milton’s Paradise Lost  (1667) is Christian Mythology. So is Alphonse de Lamartine‘s L’Homme:

Borné dans sa nature, infini dans ses vœux,
L’homme est un dieu tombé qui se souvient des cieux[.]
[Limited in his nature, infinite in his wishes,
Man is a fallen god who remembers heaven.]

In Greek mythology, as used by Jean Racine in Phèdre (Phædra), first performed in 1677, Phèdre is descended from Helios, god of the Sun, but her mother is Pasiphaë, who gave birth to the Minotaur, the son of a bull. Phasiphaë has sinned. Her husband, Minos, king of Crete, keeps the Minotaur in the Cretan Labyrinth, built by Dædalus. Ariadne falls in love with Theseus and gives him a thread and a sword. He kills the Minotaur and leaves the labyrinth using the thread. Theseus does not marry Ariadne, he marries Phèdre, Ariadne’s sister and Pasiphaë’s daughter. But Phèdre, Pasiphaë’s daughter, falls in love with Hippolytus, Theseus’ son by Antiope, an Amazon, and she cannot control her feelings. Phèdre reflects the influence Jansenism exerted on Jean Racine. (See Phèdre, Wiki2.org.)

Jean Racine’s tragedy is based on Greek mythology, but Racine had been exposed to Jansenism. According to Jansenists, human beings were predestined to be saved or suffer the torments of hell. Augustine of Hippo‘s harsh view of the consequences of the Original Sin led to a heresy, Jansenism, which throws light on Phèdre’s powerlessness, but does not make Saint Augustine a lesser theologian and father of the Christian Church. He is the author of the The City of GodOn Christian Doctrine and, especially, his Confessions. He had been a sinner, but converted at the age of 31.

The Original Sin

  • the Western Church
  • the Eastern Church

In both the Eastern and Western Churches, and in Judaism, Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, which is the Original Sin. It led to their removal from the  Garden of Eden, or Paradise. They became mere mortals, which is called the human condition. In the Western Church, humans beings are born guilty of the Original Sin.

However, the Eastern Church proposes more lenient consequences to Adam and Eve’s sin. Adam and Eve sinned, which is the first or original sin, but it does not mean that individual human beings are born guilty of the original sin and must be rushed to the baptismal font.

Matters are changing. Today “[b]oth East and West hold that each person is not called to atone for the actual sin committed by Adam and Eve.”
(See East-West Schism,Original sin, free will and the Immaculate Conception, Wiki2.org.)

The Conversion of St. Augustine by Fra Angelico (Wiki2.org.)

Augustine of Hippo

Concerning the Original Sin, one may wish to read Saint Augustine and the Original Sin.

Saint Augustine of Hippo (13 November 354 – 28 August 430 CE) was not translated into Greek until the 14th century, the 1300’s. The Christian Byzantine Empire was a Greek-language Empire.

“His works were not translated into Greek until the 14th century; as such, he had little or no influence on mainstream Orthodox thought until 17th century Ukraine and 18th century Russia, primarily through the influence of western clergy and the establishment of theological schools which relied on Latin models with respect to curricula, text books, etc.”

(See Saint Augustine and the Original Sin)

One may argue that Greek-speaking Christians who convened at the First Council of Nicaea, in 325 CE, and convened again at the Council of Constantinople (the former Byzantium), in 381 CE, both ecumenical, may have known Latin, but Saint Augustine lived between 354 and 430 CE.

“The Eastern Church makes no use at all of Augustine. Another Orthodox view is expressed by Christos Yannaras, who described Augustine as ‘the fount of every distortion and alteration in the Church’s truth in the West’.”
(See East-SchismOriginal sin, free will and the Immaculate Conception, Wiki2.org)

The East-West Schism of 1054 occurred, if not 729 (from 325 CE) years, at least 673 years (from 381), after the Christian Church was founded at the First Council of Nicaea and the Council of  Constantinople.

 “Rome must not require more from the East than had been formulated and what was lived in the first millennium.” (Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI)
(See East-West SchismTheological reconciliation, Wiki2.org.)

It should also be noted that the Western Church wanted Mary to be born untainted to the extent of making the Immaculate Conception a dogma in 1854. In 1854, Pope Pius IX, using papal infallibility, or ex cathedra issued papal bull Ineffabilis Deusmaking the  Immaculate Conception a doctrine or dogma-

On 1st November 1950, by exercising papal infallibility, Pope Pius XII issued the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus making the Assumption of Mary an article of faith, or doctrine, or dogma.

The Eastern Church rejected the Immaculate Conception. It would not be a dogma until 1854, but it was a rationalization.

“These doctrinal issues center around the Orthodox perception that the Catholic theologians lack the actual experience of God called theoria and thereby fail to understand the importance of the heart as a noetic or intuitive faculty.”
(See East-West Schism, Theological Reconciliation (Wiki2.org.)

Similarly, The Five (composers) attempted to compose distinct Russian music, an Eastern music. They composed superb music, but what they expressed was a “knowledge within them.” So their endeavour was an anamnesis. They were using the “intuitive faculty.”

As  noted in my last post, “[a] major event of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), was the issuance by Pope Paul and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople of the Catholic–Orthodox Joint Declaration of 1965.”

This has been seen as good will on the part of both the Eastern and Western Churches. After a millenium, going further may not be a realistic goal.

“Catholics [Christians] accept as valid the Eastern Orthodox intuitive [“knowledge within us”] and mystical understanding of God and consider it complementary to the rational Western reflection.”
(See East-West Schism, cannot locate, Wiki 2.org.)

Although the Western Church’s repertoire of liturgical music contains masterpieces of spirituality, the Eastern Church is the richer source of music reflecting an “intuitive and mystical understanding of God,” “innate knowledge.”


Blaise Pascal wrote a famous pensée (thought):

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point[.]
[The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.]


Sources and Resources

  • Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions is a Wikisource publication
  • Jean Racine’s Phèdre is a Wikisource publication
  • Phaedra is Gutenberg’s [EBook #1977]

I apologize for a rather lengthy absence. I was exhausted and had to regroup.

Love to everyone 💕

Sergei Rachmaninoff‘s Praise the Lord
performed by the USSR Ministry of Culture Chamber Choir.

augustine_confessiones (1)

St. Augustine’s Confessions, Manuscript on vellum. Germany, first half 13th century. (Wikisource)

© Micheline Walker
19 January 2019

The Eastern Church’s Theotokos


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Theotokos of Vladimirtempera on panel, 104 x 69 cm, painted about 1130 in Constantinople (Wiki2.org.)


  • the Eastern Church
  • the Western Church

In Eastern or Orthodox Churches, the Western Church’s Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, is called the Theotokos, a Greek word meaning literally the “Birth-Giver of God.” Moreover, in Orthodox Churches, also called the Byzantine Rite, the Theotokos has always been portrayed in the same way. In the Western Church, depictions of Mary differ from artist to artist and from art movement to art movement. The Western Church has paintings and statues of the Virgin Mary, but the Theotokos is an icon.

The Theotokos

The image at the top of this post shows a very precious icon, the Theotokos of Vladimir. It is a Byzantine icon of the Virgin and Child dating to the Kormenian period and predating the Fall of Constantinople, on 29 May 1453, the capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire. Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire, further dividing the Eastern and Western Churches, which separated in 1054. Byzantine icons survived the Great Schism.


Our Lady of Kazan, a 16th-century copy (Yelokhovo Cathedral, Moscow)

The Theotokos of Vladimir was painted in Constantinople and resembles the Theotokos of Kazan. The Theotokos of Kazan is a copy, the original was likely destroyed 1904, but I would call it archetypal. It was likely painted in or about 1131 and was a gift from the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople to Grand Duke Yury Dolgorukiy of Kyiv. The Icon was housed in Mezhyhirskyi Monastery. But the Theotokos of Vladimir was stolen when Andrei Bogolyubsky sacked Kyiv, in 1169. It was taken to Vladimir, a medieval capital of Russia located two hundred kilometers east of Moscow. (See Theotokos of Vladimir, Wiki2.org.)

The Theotokos is regarded as the holy protectress of Russia.” The Theotokos of Vladimir is now housed in a functioning church in the Tretyakov Gallery, in Moscow. (See Theotokos of Vladimir, Wiki2.org.) Vladimir’s Theotokos is described as iconography of the Eleusa (tenderness). Such icons of the Theotokos show Jesus “cuddling up” to his mother.

The Great Schism of 1054

  • the Original Sin
  • the Immaculate Conception
  • Saint Augustine

East and West remained united despite several disputes, but these culminated in the  Great Schism of 1054. The East-West Schism involves many issues, such as the Trinity. God is one but in three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases. However, we will focus on one dispute: the Immaculate Conception

In 1054, the Eastern Church rejected the Immaculate Conception. According to Augustine of Hippo (13 November 354 – 28 August 430 CE), a revered father of the Church, humans were born guilty of the Original Sin. They were tainted until Baptism.

However, Mary, the mother of the Redeemer could not be born stained. She had to be born free of the Original Sin. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia,

[t]he formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her [Mary’s] soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin.

(See The Immaculate Conception, The Catholic Encyclopedia.)

Mary was not “exempt from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death,” but she was redeemed through the same merits of Christ.

The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism.

The Eastern Church  rejected the rather convoluted Immaculate Conception.


The Immaculate Conception was indeed difficult to accept. Yet, this doctrine was not dogmatically defined in the Catholic Church until 1854 when Pope Pius IX, declared ex cathedra, i.e., using papal infallibility, in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus, the Immaculate Conception to be doctrine. (See Immaculate Conception, Wiki2.org.)

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

(See Ineffabilis Deus, Wiki2.org.)

Not only does the Eastern Church reject the Immaculate Conception, but it also rejects papal infallibility. In the Eastern Church, the Theotokos falls asleep, which is called the Dormition of the Mother of God. But, on 1 November 1950, in the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus DeusPope Pius XII used papal infallibility to make the Assumption of the Virgin Mary a dogma.

The Immaculate Conception is celebrated on 8 December in the Western Church and 9 December, in the Eastern Church. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is celebrated on 15 August in both the Western and Eastern Churches, but 15 August is August 28, N.S. for those following the Julian Calendar.


Would that I could conclude this post appropriately. The Parables of Jesus of Nazareth and Mariology are favourite topics. Dogmas are not.

Eastern Orthodox concepts of Mary have been mostly expressed in liturgy and are not subject to a central dogmatic teaching office.

(See Mariology, Wiki2.org.)

But the debate is over. “In 1965, Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras I  nullified the anathemas of 1054 although this nullification of measures taken against a few individuals was essentially a goodwill gesture and did not constitute any sort of reunion.” (See East-West Schism, Wiki2.org.)

It may be that this nullifaction was a “goodwill gesture,” but there were genuine benefits to this goodwill gesture. Basically, East or West, a Christian is a Christian. The Theotokos of Vladimir is in the Tretyakov Gallery, in a functioning church.  It cannot go out of style.

I read a sentence, the source of which is Britannica, but cannot find again. However, it read that “[t]he Byzantine heritage survived … mainly because the Orthodox church showed an astonishing internal strength and a remarkable administrative flexibility.” The eastern church has Synods, each of which is autonomous, rather than one Holy See. (See Autocephaly, Wiki2.org.)

However, what led me to investigate the Immaculate Conception and, in the process, mention the Assumption, is the extraordinary spirituality of Russia’s liturgical music. It shows “astonishing internal strength.”


Love to everyone 💕


© Micheline Walker
12 January 2019

Becoming a Senior Citizen


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A Fisher Girl, by Ilya Repin, 1874 (wikiart.org.)

I apologize for not posting for a long time. I was asked to prepare a “protection mandate” and a Will. I am told that it is ordinary business. However, if at all possible, I will take care of my cat until nature takes him away. He will be eleven in April. I will also take care of myself.

However, I’ve not been idle. I have been comparing the Western Church, Catholicism’s Virgin Mary in particular, and the Eastern Church’s Theotokos, the Birth-Giver of God.

This subject is a little more complicated than one would suspect. The two Churches are both united and different.

I will publish my post as soon as my cat lets me use the computer’s keyboard.

Nikolai Lugansky plays Rachmaninoff‘s Études-Tableaux, Opus 33

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A bouquet of flowers by Ilya Repin, 1878 (wikiart.org.)

© Micheline Walker
9 January 2019