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West front of St. Julien A Pilgrimage     by Sir Rosemary

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Darius' Church, in real life the Roman Catholic Church of St. Julien-le-Pauvre, is on a quiet little side street in the Latin Quarter a block or so from the Seine (Quai de la Tournelle) where The Barge was moored. The name means Saint Julian-the-Poor—so called because its "saint patron", the medieval bishop of Le Mans, gave so much away that his purse was always empty. The building, which is near Notre-Dame Cathedral, dates from the 11th century, and was built by monks. I went there alone this past July while my traveling companions were at a museum I had very recently revisited. It had been many years since I had actually been inside, although I used to pass by it almost daily as a visiting college student.

I approach the church from the back (it faces away from the larger street next to it), which is its least prepossessing side, and walk up through a little park-like area, then around to the right, past the main door, still wondering if I am going to feel anything special. An old man leaning up against the wall next to the steps doffs his cap as I pass, a courtly gesture once common with his generation.

Continuing around to the right, I enter the tiny street, hardly wider than a sidewalk, which makes a dog-leg bend away from the far side of the building. My heart turns over--suddenly I am looking at the "rectory door" through which Duncan and Darius so often passed. I am standing on the spot of my very favorite scene in all of Highlander--Duncan's and Tessa's reunion after his battle with Grayson in Band of Brothers--Holy Ground indeed! Thank goodness I have a pocketful of tissues!

Pushing open the side door, I enter the dimly lit interior, to the scent of flowers and candle wax. St. Julien-le-Pauvre is one of the oldest churches in Paris, which is to say that it is one of the oldest buildings in that city. The sanctuary is small for a big city church, and austerely simple in design and decoration. The seating is rows of wooden chairs with wicker seats—pews (or any fixed seating) are unknown in all but the most modern of postwar French churches. The windows are quite plain, small and high up, and there is very little color except for the crimson, white, and gold of the altar.

My thoughts race as images fill my mind. Here is the pillar where Duncan swept away the chairs and cried out his anguish at discovering Darius' headless body… the floor where he threw himself in despair as he struggled against the dark quickening… the altar where he comforted Father Robert, and before which he defeated Ahriman. These walls have echoed to the sound of Immortal voices… Immortal feet have trod these stones. Perhaps if I am very unobtrusive, they may reappear…

I move slowly around the sanctuary in the cool half-light, drinking in the strangely familiar atmosphere. This is a good place to hope--filled with peace, steeped in centuries of prayer. At the brass "tree" of red vigil lamps, I pause to say my own prayer and to light a candle for the future of Highlander. The second candle glows for my MacWoW clansibs and my fellow Forumlanders, who are with me in spirit. The coins dropped into the iron offering box clink sharply in the silence.

My watch reminds me that it is time to rejoin my companions. Reluctantly, I step outside, recoiling slightly at the brightness of the dappled sunlight beneath the trees. I turn to look back over my shoulder at that fateful door, thinking how many times Duncan himself must have paused here, wishing the same thing I am wishing--for the door to swing wide just once more to reveal Darius' welcoming smile, longing to be invited inside for one more game of chess and one more cup of that awful "tea", and remembering what a blessing it was to rest in the presence of his friend's gentle strength and great wisdom.

Several earnest sightseers approach the church behind me, peering into their guidebooks in preparation for their visit. Little do they know that they are about to enter a place that is not only sacred, but also part of a great legend.

Paix et Highlander à jamais.

(Posted to the old Rysher Highlander Forum by Sir Rosemary of the Clan MacWoW, Sister of Darius' Church on Thursday, 10 September 1998. This essay is Copyright © 1998 by Sir Rosemary and is used here by permisson. All rights reserved.)

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(This page last updated 03/23/2004)

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