Ignoring the gruesome grammar (left) for it would be impossible to write about a dream I do not remember, I am today prompted to write about a dream.
This is an account of a dream that sent me on a pilgrimage from northern to southern France.
I have kept a dream diary for over three decades. There have been phases of my life when I’ve dreamt whole series of dreams, sometimes as several dreams a night. One of these series began before I moved to France – and before I even knew I was to move to France. The series continued after the relocation, persuading me to journey to a place in the South of France which had turned up in these dreams. I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I see it as a sort-of pilgrimage, especially as it concerned three saints; and the route, for my journey took me from Paris to Conques, in the Occitan region of southern France and following one of the French pilgrim routes to Compostelle (Compostela) in northwestern Spain, where is the shrine of St Jacques/Santiago/St James.
My pilgrimage was to see, in Conques, the relics of Ste Foy, which are kept in the church of the Abbaye de Conques.
Ste Foy translates to St Faith. It is not the saint’s real name, which is not known. She is said to have been martyred in the fourth century at the age of nine for refusing to renounce the Christian faith, resisting even the pleas of her own mother.
Out of my series of dreams concerning Ste Foy I recall most vividly one that was very short, comprising a single vivid image and an equally short but precise message. This dream occurred after I had moved to France, had discovered the connection between Ste Foy and the Church of the Abbey at Conques, for the image in the dream was of what I came to know as the western entrance, which has a tympanum over the door depicting The Last Judgment.
In the dream, a woman was standing in front of the door, beneath the tympanum. It was sunny. The woman’s face was not a generic image; it was very clear and very individual. She was smiling at me, broadly. I recall her as being in her forties, but younger-looking. Her most striking feature was her jet-black hair, which was bobbed and very straight. And she said to me, “Look up Ste Foy and Ste Marguerite.” That was all. And that was the entirety of the dream.
This was a new direction for me to take in this series of dreams. It was the first mention of a Ste Marguerite. What connection could there be between a Ste Foy and a Ste Marguerite? Was there one, even, or was I just dreaming?
I was not just dreaming. There was most certainly a connection between Ste Foy and a Ste Marguerite. The bridge between the two is in the word Canada. But that’s another story.
I made my sort-of pilgrimage and stood in front of the relics of Ste Foy. And in front of that tympanum. The journey down into the valley wherein sits the abbey is spectacular. So was the abbey. So were the relics of the Saint. I was sad that Conques was too far from Paris to visit on a regular basis.
Shortly after, my husband and I began looking for a house to buy that would be within commuting distance of Paris. We drew a circle on a map and started house-hunting. And I came across the name Conches-en-Ouche. Intrigued by the similarity between Conches and Conques I found to my astonishment, that there was in the town, an Eglise Ste Foy. One Raoul III, returning from a pilgrimage to Spain, had stopped off at Conques and saw there the relics of Ste Foy. Raoul must have been impressed for the saint was made patroness of the church he constructed in Conches-en-Ouche.
We did go to see a house for sale in Conches-En-Ouche. While we were there we visited the church. Everything in the church was about the parallels between Conches-en-Ouche and Conques. There was the story of the martyrdom of Ste Foy, her relics in Conques and there were pilgrimages arranged between Conches and Conques. And the house we eventually bought was within driving distance of Conches-En-Ouche.
Leaving Conches, we drove back to Paris in passing through some villages surrounding the town. One of them was called Ste Marguerite.