Throughout our careers as teachers, Chris and I had many opportunities to bring students on European tours. These were always marvelous experiences for us as well as for the students. But the only problem with a tour is that we were never in any one location long enough to really get to know the place or the people. We have been in Lyon now for almost three months and are really loving the opportunity of having an in-depth experience.
The members of our Écully ward are amazing. We feel like they have really embraced us. Chris and I presented a self-reliance fireside for our ward last week. It was really fun to interact spiritually and socially with the saints both during and after the event. You really get to know people when you sit down and eat together. And I spoke in Sacrament meeting yesterday. I could see the faces of the congregation with their nods of encouragement as I struggled through 15 minutes of second-language French in front of a group of native speakers. What a sweet if not terrifying experience!
The other saints that we are getting to know are those whose images are in the paintings, sculptures and stained-glass windows of the many churches here in Lyon. Wherever you travel, the Christian churches are adorned with biblical stories as well as images of lesser known local saints or martyrs. It's fairly easy to get to know the more universal ones; Saint Peter who holds the keys or Moses with his "horns" and tablets. But there are always other local saints that you can't know without a little more time studying that place. Some are connected to an entire region or country, like Joan of Arc or Clovis and Clothilde here in France. But some are specific to a region or even to a city, like Saint Blandine or Saint Pothin here in Lyon. We have never before been in a single place long enough to get to know these local saints. And we find their lives and sacrifices to be inspiring as well.
Some of our friends in Écully ward. Chris is talking with our Primary
president. (I play the piano for primary!) The elder's quorum president
and his daughter and our Stake self-reliance specialist are in the background.
Some of our young adult friends that we do family home evening with every Monday night at the Institute building.
Saint Martin d'Ainay Romanesque church. One of the oldest in Lyon (begun in the 10th century.) At
one point this monastery had over 200 monks in residence.
Painting in St. Martin d'Ainay. Outside figures: St. Clothilde and St Martin (early converts in France). Clothilde became the queen of France who converted her husband, Clovis (Louis I), the first king of what is modern France. Next two figures: St. Blandine and St. Pothin (both Christians who were martyred in Lyon during the reign of Marcus Aurelius). Figures on each side of Christ: Mary His mother and St. Michael (protectors of Lyon). Christ in the center, holding the orb or world in his hand. The 4 rivers are running out to all the world from under his feet.
St. Pothin was an elderly bishop in the city of Lyon during Roman rule and
persecutions. Even though he was 80 years old, he was beaten for his beliefs
and thrown into prison where he died.
St. Blandine was a young slave girl who refused to deny her Christian beliefs.
Consequently, she was put to death in the Arena of the 3 Gauls here in Lyon.
Legend has it that the lions refused to harm her.
Blandine in the tympanum of another church here in Lyon.
The Arena of the 3 Gauls in Lyon where Blandine and many other Christians were killed.