A Bayeux story.
When Jamie and I decided to film part of the documentary of my journey with the Bayeux Tapestry, Carolyn, one of my friends from Australia, joined us in Paris.
We drove to Bayeux in our hired Mercedes. Poor Caroline, Jamie took advantage of being in Europe and drove a lot faster than I felt comfortable with.
We only had a few days in Bayeux, and we had to move fast to get the footage completed. We did a few interviews and then we had permission to film in the Cathedral.
One of the areas we filmed in was the crypt. Today, the crypt and the western facade towers are the only features dating back to the Romanesque period.
The 9th-century crypt is quite remarkable. Its’ pillars and columns are adorned with paintings, some of which date back to the 15th century. Located in the choir, this crypt was walled up for centuries and even fell into oblivion. It was rediscovered in 1412, during work to hollow out a grave for the Bishop Jean de Boissey.
We walked down the curved stone stairs that led from the main part of the church down into a very dark crypt. It took a while for our eyes to acclimate to the dark. The only lights were on the huge Romanesque pillars.
We walked in silence and there was a pause of reverence as we realised we were not alone. A shiver went down my back.
There was a man standing over the marble plinth, he was of swarthy appearance, and he wore a dark suit and his profile was accentuated by his white shirt which seemed to reflect up into his face. If I had to describe him to anyone, I would say he looked like a gypsy. His arms stretched wide and his hands were placed in con-caved plates carved into the marble. His head was lowered and he was repeating an unknown mantra in a language I couldn’t place.
Not wanting to disturb him, we backed up to the walls into the darkness and waited in silence, watching him with fascination. We didn’t even look at each other.
Fifteen minutes went by and he slowly released his arms and they fell to his side. He stood quietly and then came over to me taking my hands in his, and walked me to the plinth where he placed my hands in the indents, he looked at me intently, and uttered something that I believe he said but prefer to not to share at this time.
Then, he was gone. I can still feel the warmth of his hands, but goodness what do you say to your Friend and Son.
I took a deep breath, exhaled, and gave a nervous laugh, I was emotionally charged and Jamie began filming.
There was a small green plant in the base of one of the indents and when I photographed the marble area I realised the concave was an octagonal shape.
I will never forget that moment.
His words are always with me and they are the bridge to my undertaking this journey of faith in this mighty project.
There is more to this story, but I leave that for another day.That is why I have added the photo of a carving that is of a scene in the tapestry.
The latin wording states, “Where Harold took an oath to Duke William”
Ubi Harold Sacramentum Fecit Willemo Duci.