Slander – an odious sin

Even in a time of great persecution under Louis XIV, most Huguenots in France were primarily concerned for their personal holiness in the eyes of God, rather than to fight for their rights. This is illustrated by the following imagined secret evening culte in a private home, based on a genuine sermon preached in Castres at the start of the year 1681 by Pastor Abel-Rodolphe de Ladevèze.

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A New Home?

How do refugee families settle in their adopted country?

Recently the BBC published a moving report about nine-year-old Rouaa from a Syrian refugee family. They had fled their home after a chemical attack and lived for several years in a camp in Lebanon. Now the UK has granted them asylum.

For several years, I have cared for asylum seekers assigned to my little village in Switzerland. We have hosted families from Lebanon, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Somalia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

What are some of the issues they face?

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Hagia Sophia to become a mosque – again

Turkish President Erdogan has announced Hagia Sophia will revert to being a mosque, with Muslim prayers to be held there again from July 24 2020.

Origins

The Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul was not named after a female saint; the name means Holy Wisdom – a reference to Jesus, the Wisdom of God – and was given a hundred years later to a Church originally commissioned by Constantine I in 325 CE, on the site of an earlier pagan temple. Rebuilt several times after fires, the present building was erected in the 6th century CE under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I and is considered an architectural marvel, both in terms of its size and its amazing dome structure.

For more than a millennium Hagia Sophia was the Cathedral of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, with a brief interruption in the 13th century when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral by the Fourth Crusaders.

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A Night in the Forest

This is a sample chapter from my work-in-progress: Gédéon.
I would welcome your comments.

“Get out of sight, Madeleine!” Papa’s voice aroused her from her slumber. A cry escaped her lips as her head jerked up and struck the massive bureau that Maman had refused to leave behind. 

A terrified neigh. The cart jolted, then stopped. 

But the dull thud of horses’ hooves continued. Several horses. 

The last glow of the sun seeping between the trees revealed three shadowy shapes on horseback approaching. Or was it four? 

A voice barked, “Halt! And no heroics!” 

Were they highway robbers … or drunken louts looking for fun with a helpless girl? 

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Revocation of the Edict of Nantes

The background research I’m doing for my second book, provisionally called Gédéon, has proved fascinating. I hope to share some gleanings here in the next months.

Portrait Of A Young Boy With A Dog by Philip Mercier

Sixteen years old when the book starts, Gédéon is the oldest child in his family. His sister Madeleine is 12 and little Rachel 9. They live in Normandy and all of them are Huguenots.

The main events of the story take place in 1685-86.

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Esther and Athaliah, two plays adapted from those of Jean Racine by Richard Bunning

As a tame introduction to the work of Jean Racine, this adaptation is most helpful, presenting the plays in abridged form and in contemporary English. Unfortunately, they thereby lose some of their claim to fame as “masterpieces of one of the greatest literary artists known”.

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The Refugees: A Tale of Two Continents, by Arthur Conan Doyle

Two exciting stories in one book. Conan Doyle has diligently researched events and conditions both in Versailles and in French-Canadian North America, and developed two superbly written tales linked by the person of Amory De Catinat, a half-hearted young Huguenot serving as a personal guard of King Louis XIV.

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Psaumes interdits by Marjolaine Chevallier

This is a very well-crafted story of an extended family of Huguenots caught up in the frenzied and irrational persecution under King Louis XIV after he revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. It is based on a true incident, in which smuggled documents from sympathisers in Holland are salvaged from a shipwreck near Rochefort on the west coast of France.

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Deep convictions under fire

Four hundred years after French Huguenots fled from persecution under the obsessive Roman Catholicism of the King, and scraped out an existence on the harsh high Vivarais-Lignon plateau, their faithful Protestant descendants collaborate to help persecuted Jews escape from the German occupiers. Continue reading “Deep convictions under fire”

Incendium by A. D. Swanston

Gripping from beginning to end, we follow the tense developments of the Papist struggle to overpower the Huguenots in France and reclaim the English crown from Protestant sympathiser Queen Elizabeth I in the late 16th century.

Lawyer Christopher Radcliff finds his life threatened when he is sent by his patron, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, on a secret mission to Paris at the height of the religious conflict, then makes use of dubious intelligencers to investigate rumours of a massive plot in London, involving murder, torture and executions.

Swanston has developed the historical scene very well, as also the key characters.