History, A Thrilling Experience -- Beyond The Paris Catacombs
Free to Travel
It was 2004 when I decided to travel all over the world. We all, back then, could blow more green cash than today. The money was there for grabs, and life didn't stop us from travelling. First stop?
The British Airways flight landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport on time after 6 Hours over that Atlantic from Columbus, Erick the Red and Leiff Ericcson. My Française was pretty much decent, even just to play a part on the next DaVinci Code installment. "Mon pere (dad), mon pere... wish you were here with me dear dad..."
I was shocked to see that Eiffel Tower and the "Arc de Triomphe" at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. For some reason all I wanted to see was those mysterious and cavernous Paris catacombs. I was a history buff thanks to a wonderful History teacher in 8th grade. Besides I took Geology in my 20's. What was there to stop me?
This underground ossuary holds the final resting place for more than 6 million souls. Located at the south end of the former city gate. These underground stone mine tunnels hid some many unsung heroes from the French resistance movement. Believe it or not, German troops found out about this network location and began to use it as an emergency bunker.
Why an Ossuary?
Paris, the one the Franks knew, held Roman traditions to bury their beloved ones on the outskirts of the city gates. By the Fifth century, paganism gave way to Christianity, and as we see it today in some churches in the U.S. or UK, people began to bury their dead behind their local churches sacred yards. Life was slow and the space for burials did abound. Most people would work the land or maybe become a jack of all trades.
A mason was always available for his church, and of course was promised a glorified resting place for him and his family. The rich didn't have problems at all, because they knew they had to collaborate with their church religiously.
Population grew and the Church cemeteries were already full. The Saints Innocents Cemetery was closed and demolished in 1780. It was having issues with stenching odors and decomposing smelling of corpses that not need to be named when we are eating.
It was Police Lieutenant General overseeing the renovations, Alexandre Lenoir, who first had the idea to use empty underground tunnels on the outskirts of the capital to this end. At first in 1786, the tunnels were used as an underground warehouse for those massive bones and skulls. We don't know for sure, who started to pile them artistically as we see them today. Maybe some masons that saw a better use to millions and millions of femurs and tibias that probably once were "bad to the bone?"
Early next day morning, we headed to Denfert-Roucheau Station. The only legal entrance for visitors. Descending through a narrowed spiral stoned staircase from the dark ages, we started to sense and smell that dense humidity along with a silence from under any graveyard. Yikes! We felt like "les miserables" indeed, but this time with some euros and our camera. Finally we reached rock bottom 60 feet under Parisian busy life.
"Arrête! C'est ici l'empire de la Mort "
'Halt! This is the empire of Death' Said the port to the real Catacomb entrance. Was not an easy task before getting there. We were told to walk for about 30 minutes through an enigmatic twisting hallway of mortared stone. Machu Picchu was up above 8000 feet, but this time we were in the kingdom of the death.
The signs were helpful, but graffitti from hundred of years ago almost stopped us from the crowd. But we did stop and were atracted to a curious spot. A skull was there... like staring at us. I was bold enough to do my "three stooges" move. Your fault Moe!!
The darn thing pulled me toward it. My... I couldn't scream or beg for my life. The view in front of me was terrifying. A living nightmare trying to punish me for doing this to a formal human being.
The artificial lights got dimmer and the whole cavern turned around 360 degrees under my feet, just to confuse my "conscious self."
Through Tunnels and Lights
A force, or an spirit like energy took me away through people who didn't see me pass them by! But where was I heading without my own agreement or consent?
"Mon nom est.." My name is...
Every bit of me, every breathing and sweating was drawn to a secluded area, and this person from long time ago sat in front of me. It wasn't Rousseau, Montesquieu, Condorcet or Voltaire for sure. Curiously, I was able to understand his old French, a Provencal or old Occitan.
"My name is Pierre-Guillaume Delacroix," he said to me. "Don't worry mon ami," he continued, "I was this well known troubadour from long time ago. But way before my career as an entertainer, I was a "prieur de la maison de l'ordre de l'Hôpital " (a Knight Templar like priory tenure). I was killed by road robbers when I was coming back from Montpelier."
My Sudden Questioning...
After getting myself together and taking a deeper breath, I was able to understand this spirit, or whatever you want to call him. To be honest his mouth smelled like raw liver, and this fetid odor came from under his dark brown robe. Talking about a bloated up deer smelling like a dead goat. I was about to throw up on his face...!
"Is this how you make people dissapear?" I inquired
Not at all! Things happen for a reason, remember that. Energy never gets destroyed, it just changes. Now to make sure you understand, you will be granted some powers from now own. You will master several languages and we will join you in your journey...
I don't really understand anything about this shit you are telling me, Jean Paul!
Sorry for the harsh words Pierre-Guillaume , but I think, and you know it! I really believe this is just a cheap nightmare for a Halloween story...!
I knew that anger of yours was coming... but you will need us for your future inspirations. I will make things rhyme and the world will come to you like avid swans.
So, you are telling me that I will write a book, or..?
You will become a writer for sure. And when you leave this dungeon of the lost souls from oblivion, you will choose a surname that will make you unique.
"Lord De Croix," or "Lord De Cross."
I don't see a meaning to it...and I hope I can go back to my own life as soon as possible! I belong to my own time up there! And why are we here in front of these cold and insensitive skulls? Are they your family?
No mon ami.. those are the road robbers that took my life. I just knew they would end up worse than me.
So they died a terrible death..?
Oui! Just after that black death of 1348 C.E. (kneeling down and doing his own sign of the cross) pater, filius, spiritus sanctus, amen!
Was this story..?
Back to my Freakin' Life...
Fighting my way back through wicked souls that wanted to pull me away for good, my whole physical body reunited instantly with the group that descended to the Catacombs with me that morning. I was already walking a little behind and I felt like passing out. I wanted to look back, but I wanted to leave as soon as I could. I knew this trip was meant to be, but enough was enough!
But there we go again! Right in front of me and my own eyes, this curious couple was following already another chosen one, or victim? Pierre-Guillaume, mentally told me to, "mind my own business!"
Was this the end?
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