I wandered into the Cathedrale Saint-Saveur in Aix en Provence the other day. It’s one of those awe-inspiring spaces. In fact, it’s a multiple of spaces inside, some vast, and some small and intimate. I’m always interested in the way plants are used by human beings (enthobotany is the correct term!) and so it was no surprise to see the prominence of lilies in the cathedral.
Lilies are one of those plants which have special spiritual signifance over many centuries. If you ever wander around a gallery of French or Italian paintings for example, you’ll spot lily plants in many of the religious ones. The white lily is sometimes referred to as the “Madonna Lily” which further conveys the extent to which people have imbued this plant with spiritual significance.
The scent of lilies is very, very strong. I find it quite overpowering. In fact, it doesn’t take long before I feel rather queasy in a room full of lilies. It’s a pity for me because I think they are very beautiful but I can’t have them in my house. Fortunately, the cathedral is so large I could escape the scent of the lilies pretty easily.
What did surround me absolutely everywhere was the music. They were playing Thais’ Meditation. You know it? Here’s Sophie-Anne Mutter playing it. It’s one of those pieces of music that always, but always, makes me feel tearful. It moves me in my core.