Sunday, April 22, 2018

Morning Madonna

Roberto Ferruzzi (Italian artist, 1854–1934) Madonna of the Streets 1887

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Morning Madonna


Marianne Stokes (Austrian-born English artist, 1855–1927) Madonna and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Morning Madonna


Madonna and Child Nursing. Early Flemish School 16th century

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Morning Madonna


Vittore Carpaccio (Italian High Renaissance Painter, ca.1450-1525) Madonna and Child 1505

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Morning Madonna


Madonna and Child with Angel Musicians, Aragonese school of the mid-15th century

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Morning Madonna


Virgin and Child 1475-1500, a painting by Flemish Unknown Masters.

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Morning Madonna

St. Catherine’s Monastery near Mt. Sinai 6C. Around Mary and Jesus are St. Theodor of Amasea, St. George, and 2 angels.

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Morning Madonna


Bono da Ferrara or Bono Ferrarese (fl 1450-1452) Madonna and Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Morning Madonna

 Madonna and Child enthroned, 1217

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Morning Madonna


Pseudo Pier Francesco Fiorentino Madonna and Child 1460-80 Uffizi

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Morning Madonna

January Hermansz. van Biljert (Dutch artist, c 1597-1671) Madonna and Child 1635

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Painting a Portrait of The Madonna

Derick Baegert (c 1440–1515) Saint Luke Painting the Virgin Mary c 1485

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

SPRING - Time to Head Outdoors to Spin the Wool & to Fall in Love

Meeting of Saint Margaret and the Prefect Olibrius by Jean Fouquet. 1452 -60 for Étienne Chevalier.  A common image in medieval manuscripts is a woman spinning while standing, often the lady is depicted spinning wool amongst sheep.

A textile is a fibrous substance, such as wool, cotton, flax, or silk, that can be spun into yarn & woven or knitted into cloth.  Stone Age peoples wove nets, baskets, mats, & belts out of reeds, grasses, & strips of animal hides - and this eventually led to the creation of fabrics to substitute for the animal skins which often served as human clothing. Ancient textiles were made mostly of linen, cotton, wool, & silk. Spinning & weaving were mentioned in the Bible. 
From Exodus 35:25 Every skilled woman spun with her hands & brought ...... All the women who were skilled in sewing & spinning prepared blue, purple, & scarlet thread, & fine linen cloth... 
From Proverbs 31:19 In her hand she holds the distaff...Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. ... She extends her hands to the spinning staff, & her hands hold the spindle...

As civilizations developed, the people, the fibers, & the different methods tools invented for turning the fibers into cloth traveled to different parts of the world, & many ideas on making textiles were exchanged among various peoples. Spinning is the simple process of drawing out a twisting of a few fibers together into a continuous length, & winding them into a ball or onto a stick. There is archaeological evidence to suggest that spinning was practiced in Europe at least as early as 20,000 years ago. In the early days of spinning, the drawing out & twisting of the fibers was done by hand; later the winding stick itself was modified by the addition of a weight, or whorl, at its lower end (which gave increased momentum). Thus a modified winding stick became the spinning implement, or hand spindle.

Morning Madonna with Musical Angels


Konrad von Soest (German artist, 1394-1422) Madonna and Child with 6 Angels

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Monday, April 9, 2018

SPRING -Time to Head Outdoors to Spin, Weave, & even gather Silkworm Cocoons to create a precious Textile.

Pamphila collecting cocoons of silk worms and spinning silk.  France, N. (Rouen)

A textile is a fibrous substance, such as wool, cotton, flax, or silk, that can be spun into yarn & woven or knitted into cloth.  Stone Age peoples wove nets, baskets, mats, & belts out of reeds, grasses, & strips of animal hides - and this eventually led to the creation of fabrics to substitute for the animal skins which often served as human clothing. Ancient textiles were made mostly of linen, cotton, wool, & silk. Spinning & weaving were mentioned in the Bible. 
From Exodus 35:25 Every skilled woman spun with her hands & brought ...... All the women who were skilled in sewing & spinning prepared blue, purple, & scarlet thread, & fine linen cloth... 
From Proverbs 31:19 In her hand she holds the distaff...Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. ... She extends her hands to the spinning staff, & her hands hold the spindle...

As civilizations developed, the people, the fibers, & the various methods & tools invented for turning the fibers into cloth traveled to different parts of the world & were exchanged among various cultures. Spinning is the simple process of drawing out a twisting of a few fibers together into a continuous length, & winding them into a ball or onto a stick. There is archaeological evidence to suggest that spinning was practiced in Europe at least as early as 20,000 years ago. In the early days of spinning, the drawing out & twisting of the fibers was done by hand; later the winding stick itself was modified by the addition of a weight, or whorl, at its lower end (which gave increased momentum). Thus a modified winding stick became the spinning implement, or hand spindle.

A Spinning Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Hungarian (active 1420-1430) The Virgin using a drop spindle. The circular device on the right is a yarn swift.

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

17C Portraits - Families Head Outside as Mankind Becomes "the Interpreter of Nature"

The Renaissance, from the 14-17C, marked a turning point in portraiture. Renaissance artists began to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the dominant religious art of medieval painters. Partly out of interest in the natural world & partly out of nostalgia for classical Greece & Rome, portraits became valued as symbolic & allegorical objects & as depictions of earthly success & status. The period in Europe was the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages & modern history. The relationship between man & nature was evolving as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) promoted man as "the minister & interpreter of nature." Portraits began to depict the wealthy & the middle class in natural landscapes & in more formal garden settings, where man was obviously controlling the nature around him.   As time passed, the Renaissance garden & grounds became as much as symbol of the owner's wealth & culture as his house, his clothes, or his art collection.

With the arrival of Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641) at the court of Charles I in 1632, British portraiture took a turn toward the baroque that changed the course of British & colonial American painting in the 17-18C. The Elizabethan style had almost been completely replaced in England by the 1670s quickly giving way to a more volumetric style. In the British American colonies, this transition was copied through imported engravings after Peter Lely (1617–1680) & Godfrey Kneller (1648–1723).
Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723) The Harvey Family

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Italian (active 1500-1520 in Milan). Virgin and Child with Sts Elizabeth, John and Michael.

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

17C Portraits - Families Head Outside as Mankind Becomes "the Interpreter of Nature"

The Renaissance, from the 14-17C, marked a turning point in portraiture. Renaissance artists began to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the dominant religious art of medieval painters. Partly out of interest in the natural world & partly out of nostalgia for classical Greece & Rome, portraits became valued as symbolic & allegorical objects & as depictions of earthly success & status. The period in Europe was the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages & modern history. The relationship between man & nature was evolving as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) promoted man as "the minister & interpreter of nature." Portraits began to depict the wealthy & the middle class in natural landscapes & in more formal garden settings, where man was obviously controlling the nature around him.   As time passed, the Renaissance garden & grounds became as much as symbol of the owner's wealth & culture as his house, his clothes, or his art collection.

With the arrival of Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641) at the court of Charles I in 1632, British portraiture took a turn toward the baroque that changed the course of British & colonial American painting in the 17-18C. The Elizabethan style had almost been completely replaced in England by the 1670s quickly giving way to a more volumetric style. In the British American colonies, this transition was copied through imported engravings after Peter Lely (1617–1680) & Godfrey Kneller (1648–1723).
1695 Self-portrait with family, Michiel van Musscher (1645-1705)  Late 1690s This artist's family portrait, attributed to Michiel van Musscher (1645-1705), is placed in an explosion of garden components - fountains, urns, statuary, a long, formal walk, clipped hedges, & more.  Seems more French than Dutch, & the art is dissimilar to Musscher's other works from the period.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Hungarian (active around 1520). Saint Anne with the Virgin and the Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Friday, April 6, 2018

17C Portraits - Families Head Outside as Mankind Becomes "the Interpreter of Nature"

The Renaissance, from the 14-17C, marked a turning point in portraiture. Renaissance artists began to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the dominant religious art of medieval painters. Partly out of interest in the natural world & partly out of nostalgia for classical Greece & Rome, portraits became valued as symbolic & allegorical objects & as depictions of earthly success & status. The period in Europe was the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages & modern history. The relationship between man & nature was evolving as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) promoted man as "the minister & interpreter of nature." Portraits began to depict the wealthy & the middle class in natural landscapes & in more formal garden settings, where man was obviously controlling the nature around him.   As time passed, the Renaissance garden & grounds became as much as symbol of the owner's wealth & culture as his house, his clothes, or his art collection.

With the arrival of Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641) at the court of Charles I in 1632, British portraiture took a turn toward the baroque that changed the course of British & colonial American painting in the 17-18C. The Elizabethan style had almost been completely replaced in England by the 1670s quickly giving way to a more volumetric style. In the British American colonies, this transition was copied through imported engravings after Peter Lely (1617–1680) & Godfrey Kneller (1648–1723).
1679 Jan van Kessel (I654-1708)  Portrait of a Family in a Garden

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, German (active in 1420s in the Lower Rhineland). The Holy Family with Angels

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

17C Portraits - Families Head Outside as Mankind Becomes "the Interpreter of Nature"

The Renaissance, from the 14-17C, marked a turning point in portraiture. Renaissance artists began to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the dominant religious art of medieval painters. Partly out of interest in the natural world & partly out of nostalgia for classical Greece & Rome, portraits became valued as symbolic & allegorical objects & as depictions of earthly success & status. The period in Europe was the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages & modern history. The relationship between man & nature was evolving as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) promoted man as "the minister & interpreter of nature." Portraits began to depict the wealthy & the middle class in natural landscapes & in more formal garden settings, where man was obviously controlling the nature around him.   As time passed, the Renaissance garden & grounds became as much as symbol of the owner's wealth & culture as his house, his clothes, or his art collection.

With the arrival of Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641) at the court of Charles I in 1632, British portraiture took a turn toward the baroque that changed the course of British & colonial American painting in the 17-18C. The Elizabethan style had almost been completely replaced in England by the 1670s quickly giving way to a more volumetric style. In the British American colonies, this transition was copied through imported engravings after Peter Lely (1617–1680) & Godfrey Kneller (1648–1723).
1694 Jan Weenix (1639-1719) Agneta Block & her family at their summer home Vijverhof or Flora Batavia, with her cultivated pineapple. In this painting, the design & flowers & fruits of the garden are depicted as symbols of the owner's wealth & culture as traditionally were the house, the clothes, or the art collection.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Italian (active 1320s in Rome and Avignon). Virgin and Child Enthroned

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

17C Portraits - Families Head Outside as Mankind Becomes "the Interpreter of Nature"

The Renaissance, from the 14-17C, marked a turning point in portraiture. Renaissance artists began to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the dominant religious art of medieval painters. Partly out of interest in the natural world & partly out of nostalgia for classical Greece & Rome, portraits became valued as symbolic & allegorical objects & as depictions of earthly success & status. The period in Europe was the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages & modern history. The relationship between man & nature was evolving as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) promoted man as "the minister & interpreter of nature." Portraits began to depict the wealthy & the middle class in natural landscapes & in more formal garden settings, where man was obviously controlling the nature around him.   As time passed, the Renaissance garden & grounds became as much as symbol of the owner's wealth & culture as his house, his clothes, or his art collection.

With the arrival of Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641) at the court of Charles I in 1632, British portraiture took a turn toward the baroque that changed the course of British & colonial American painting in the 17-18C. The Elizabethan style had almost been completely replaced in England by the 1670s quickly giving way to a more volumetric style. In the British American colonies, this transition was copied through imported engravings after Peter Lely (1617–1680) & Godfrey Kneller (1648–1723).
1696 Michiel van Musscher (1645-1705) The Neufville family. Here music, clothes, & the garden display the family's culture.

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, German (active 1440s in the Middle Rhineland). Darmstadt Altarpiece Virgin and Child Enthroned

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

17C Portraits - Families Head Outside as Man Becomes "the Interpreter of Nature"

The Renaissance, from the 14-17C, marked a turning point in portraiture. Renaissance artists began to paint secular scenes, breaking away from the dominant religious art of medieval painters. Partly out of interest in the natural world & partly out of nostalgia for classical Greece & Rome, portraits became valued as symbolic & allegorical objects & as depictions of earthly success & status. The period in Europe was the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages & modern history. The relationship between man & nature was evolving as Francis Bacon (1561-1626) promoted man as "the minister & interpreter of nature." Portraits began to depict the wealthy & the middle class in natural landscapes & in more formal garden settings, where man was obviously controlling the nature around him.   As time passed, the Renaissance garden & grounds became as much as symbol of the owner's wealth & culture as his house, his clothes, or his art collection.
 1648 Frans Hals (1623-1625) Family in Landscape

Morning Madonna

Giovanni Battista Salvi, called Sassaoferrato, (Italian artist, 1605-1685) Madonna and Child 1650

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Empty Tomb

Resurrection of Christ and the Women at the Tomb Fra Angelico, 1441


1308-11 Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319)  (Italian artist, 1255-1319) The Holy Women at the Sepulchre


Christ Appears as a Pilgrim by Fra Angelico, 1441

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What is the Historical Evidence that Jesus Christ Lived & Died?

Today some claim that Jesus is just an idea, rather than a real historical figure, but there is a good deal of written evidence for his existence 2,000 years ago

From The Guardian.com By Dr Simon Gathercole, Reader in New Testament Studies at the University of Cambridge.

How confident can we be that Jesus Christ actually lived?
The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established &widespread. Within a few decades of his supposed lifetime, he is mentioned by Jewish & Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writings. Compare that with, for example, King Arthur, who supposedly lived around AD500. The major historical source for events of that time does not even mention Arthur, & he is first referred to 300 or 400 years after he is supposed to have lived. The evidence for Jesus is not limited to later folklore, as are accounts of Arthur.

What do Christian writings tell us?
The value of this evidence is that it is both early & detailed. The first Christian writings to talk about Jesus are the epistles of St Paul, & scholars agree that the earliest of these letters were written within 25 years of Jesus’s death at the very latest, while the detailed biographical accounts of Jesus in the New Testament gospels date from around 40 years after he died. These all appeared within the lifetimes of numerous eyewitnesses, & provide descriptions that comport with the culture & geography of first-century Palestine. It is also difficult to imagine why Christian writers would invent such a thoroughly Jewish savior figure in a time & place – under the aegis of the Roman empire – where there was strong suspicion of Judaism.

What did non-Christian authors say about Jesus?
As far as we know, the first author outside the church to mention Jesus is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote a history of Judaism around AD93. He has two references to Jesus. One of these is controversial because it is thought to be corrupted by Christian scribes (probably turning Josephus’s negative account into a more positive one), but the other is not suspicious – a reference to James, the brother of “Jesus, the so-called Christ”.

About 20 years after Josephus we have the Roman politicians Pliny & Tacitus, who held some of the highest offices of state at the beginning of the second century AD. From Tacitus we learn that Jesus was executed while Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect in charge of Judaea (AD26-36) & Tiberius was emperor (AD14-37) – reports that fit with the timeframe of the gospels. Pliny contributes the information that, where he was governor in northern Turkey, Christians worshipped Christ as a god. Neither of them liked Christians – Pliny writes of their “pig-headed obstinacy” & Tacitus calls their religion a destructive superstition.


Did ancient writers discuss the existence of Jesus?
Strikingly, there was never any debate in the ancient world about whether Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure. In the earliest literature of the Jewish Rabbis, Jesus was denounced as the illegitimate child of Mary & a sorcerer. Among pagans, the satirist Lucian & philosopher Celsus dismissed Jesus as a scoundrel, but we know of no one in the ancient world who questioned whether Jesus lived.

How controversial is the existence of Jesus now?

In a recent book, the French philosopher Michel Onfray talks of Jesus as a mere hypothesis, his existence as an idea rather than as a historical figure. About 10 years ago, The Jesus Project was set up in the US; one of its main questions for discussion was that of whether or not Jesus existed. Some authors have even argued that Jesus of Nazareth was doubly non-existent, contending that both Jesus & Nazareth are Christian inventions. It is worth noting, though, that the two mainstream historians who have written most against these hypersceptical arguments are atheists: Maurice Casey (formerly of Nottingham University) & Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina). They have issued stinging criticisms of the “Jesus-myth” approach, branding it pseudo-scholarship. Nevertheless, a recent survey discovered that 40% of adults in England did not believe that Jesus was a real historical figure.

Is there any archaeological evidence for Jesus?
Part of the popular confusion around the historicity of Jesus may be caused by peculiar archaeological arguments raised in relation to him. Recently there have been claims that Jesus was a great-grandson of Cleopatra, complete with ancient coins allegedly showing Jesus wearing his crown of thorns. In some circles, there is still interest in the Shroud of Turin, supposedly Jesus’s burial shroud. Pope Benedict XVI stated that it was something that “no human artistry was capable of producing” & an “icon of Holy Saturday.” It is hard to find historians who regard this material as serious archaeological data, however. The documents produced by Christian, Jewish & Roman writers form the most significant evidence.

These abundant historical references leave us with little reasonable doubt that Jesus lived & died. The more interesting question – which goes beyond history & objective fact – is whether Jesus died & lived.  Life everlasting & unconditional love & total forgiveness are powerful concepts - belief, which enables them, is even stronger.

Benjamin West 1728-1820 on Easter

Benjamin West (American artist, 1738-1820) The Women at the Sepulchre (The Angel at the Tomb of Christ) 1805


Benjamin West (American artist, 1738-1820) Detail from The Women at the Sepulchre (The Angel at the Tomb of Christ) 1805.

I love the fierce turn that West took with this painting. Life everlasting & unconditional love & total forgiveness were powerful concepts - nothing to be trifled with. West had grown a lot, since he left Pennsylvania for England.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Hot Cross Buns for Easter Week

Hot Cross buns are older than Christianity - pagan celebrants ate wheat cakes at their spring festivals, and the Greeks, Romans and Ancient Egyptians all had buns with a cross etched on the top. The round bun represented the full moon, and the cross divides the bun into the four lunar quarters. Traditional buns have the cross cut into the dough or pricked out with a pin. The icing pastry bands are a more recent thing.
Since before medieval times, marking baked goods (like breads, buns and cakes) with the sign of a cross was a common thing for a homemaker or baker to do – the cross was said to ward off evil spirits which could affect the bread and make it go mouldy.

Kate Colquhoun, writes in her book, Taste: The Story Of Britain Through Its Cooking (2007), "In honour of Eastre, goddess of spring and the dawn, [Anglo-Saxon] bread dough could be studded with dried fruits and baked into small loaves that, as Christianity spread, began to be marked with a cross by monks: the earliest form of hot-cross bun.”

However, during the 1600s, under the influence of the Puritans, (a reforming movement within the Protestant Church of England) the practice of marking a cross on baked goods was condemned as Popish or Popery (Catholic behavior), and it was dropped.
“They are suspicious of ceremonial in worship, partly because they are suspicious of everything they have learned to associate with what, no doubt, they called Popery. They are apt to see Popery in talk about altars or in a cope or in the sign of the cross. One may, at this point, be reminded of Zeal-of-the-Land Busy, finding Popery in gingerbread and talking sad nonsense in Bartholomew Fair.” From, English Political Thought, 1603-1660, by John William Allen, published 1664.

So it is at this point in time, from the late 1600s, that only bread, cakes and buns made on Good Friday continued to bear a cross, in token of the Crucifixion, and with Puritan blessings. The Cross Bun became a special and unique bread. Other regional superstitions and customs saw the continuation of the cross being made in Soul Cakes for All Souls Day, although this practice was not as widespread.

From the late 1600s a tradition and custom grew whereby a particular spiced bun, Good Friday Buns, (becoming more commonly referred to as Cross Buns or Hot Cross Buns) made with a cross on them, were eaten for breakfast on Good Friday.

From the diary of Samuel Pepys we know that on Good Friday in 1664, he ate buns (or ‘wiggs’) but rather than for breakfast, he had them just before he went to bed, with some ale, which he called a ‘Lenten supper.’ “So home to dinner, and had an excellent Good Friday dinner of peas porridge and apple pye...then to walk in the garden with my wife, and so to my office a while, and then home to the only Lenten supper have had of wiggs and ale, and so to bed.” (Recipes for regional wiggs show they are a spiced fruit bun, similar to a later Hot Cross Bun, or a plainer caraway seed bun, similar to an earlier Good Friday Bun).

Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816) on Easter & England's Public Pleasure Gardens

Rotunda at Ranleigh by T Bowles 

Unconventional right from his odd-sounding first name—which was his mother’s maiden name—Gouverneur was never a governor, but he did serve in the Continental Congress, Constitutional Convention and U.S. Senate.  Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816) was born into a prominent New York family, he earned election to the state’s provincial congress, and signed the Articles of Confederation as a New York delegate to the Continental Congress.  Morris served as American minister to France from 1792-94, and as a New York senator from 1800-03.

On visiting London during Easter, he wrote “The Amusement here is to walk round till one is tired and then sit down to Tea and Rolls,” wrote Gouverneur Morris of a later visit to the Rotunda of Ranelagh, am elegant public pleasure garden for the decorous once located in the present grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Ranelagh opened for the season on this date, Easter Monday. A newspaper reported that the music “was extremely well performed” and, “considering that it is not the fashion to be there the first week, a very respectable company graced the room” (Morris, Diary, i, 525 description begins Gouverneur Morris, A Diary of the French Revolution, ed. Beatrix Cary Davenport, Boston, 1939, 2 vols.description ends; London Chronicle, 18 Apr. 1786).

1811 John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) writes his mother, Abigail Adams (1744-1818) of Easter traditions in Russia & Greece

1818 John Quincy Adams by Gilbert Stuart

From John Quincy Adams to Abigail Smith Adams, 24 April 1811

St: Petersburg 12/24 April 1811.

The Russian People pass their lives in a continual and alternate succession of feasting and fasting. Every individual whether of high or low degree celebrates two days in every year; one for his birth and the other for his baptism, which is called his name day, and is kept on the day marked in the Calendar, as devoted to the Saint of the same name; for it is a religious principle that every body must be named after some Saint, and a rule of the Greek Church never to give more than one Christian name to the same person—

The days of public solemnity are all of a religious character, and all annually return—The ecclesiastical year commences at Christmas, which is celebrated the 25th: of December—From this day the people are allowed to eat flesh untill eight weeks before Easter; that is for a time of varying duration, Easter being in the Greek as well as in the Latin Church a moveable feast—It is the Sunday following the full moon which happens on or next after the twenty-first day of March—

Christmas day and two or three after it are Holidays during which the People amuse themselves with various sports, and drive in procession sleighs, round a Corner of the Winter Palace in this City—For a week before Christmas there is a market of frozen meat brought from distant parts of the Empire, and from which the lower classes of People in St: Petersburg stock themselves with their whole Winter’s provision of fresh meat—The bullocks, sheep and Swine are all brought in sledges and without being cut up into quarters—Most of the Marketmen think it a good piece of wit, or at least an expedient to attract notice to set them upon their legs, and it is a curious show for a stranger to walk through a succession of fleeced and embowelled flocks and herds, and droves, amounting to many thousands.

The Russian Calendars all inform the people how long they may eat meat—Thus in the almanacs of the present year it is announced that meat may be eaten 6 weeks and one day—That is from and including Christmas day to the 5th: of February—Then began what they call the Butter-week; that is a sort of ambiguous week, half fast and half feast, during which they must renounce flesh, but may eat fish, and butter, (from which it has its name) and when the Christmas sports, the races and Ice hills upon the river, and the processions of sleighs before the Imperial Palace are resumed with double ardour—The Butter-week is extended to the Sunday which succeeds it, and from that day follow seven weeks of rigorous lent, called by the Greek Church the great lent, during which according to the severity of the Church rules they should eat absolutely nothing but bread and salt.—

Something of this rigour is however abated in practice in the interval between the first and last day of these seven weeks, and among the highest class of the nobility there are persons not extremely scrupulous about observing the fast at-all.—This laxity however affects their reputation in the popular opinion, and there are few even of the highest ranks, but choose to be thought regular in their practice—

The Imperial family are punctilious in setting the example—During the last year’s lent the Empress-Mother, and her unmarried daughter the Grand-Duchess Ann, paid a visit to the Grand-Duchess Catherine, a Sister of the Emperor’s, who is married to a Prince of Oldenburg, and usually resides at Twer, a City between this place and Moscow—On their way they pass’d through the City of Novogorod the antient metropolis of Russia—They were received and entertained by the magistrates of that place, in the most distinguished manner. That is to say, the magistrates met them at the gates of the City, accompanied them to Church where they attended the divine service, and afterwards presented them—bread and salt.—All which was publicly announced in the official Court Gazette—

During the whole seven weeks of Lent, all the Theatres are closed—The only species of public amusements, that are allowed, are Concerts and Oratorio’s—No entertainments are given, and the families which profess to be scrupulous in their duties neither pay nor receive visits—

There are religious solemnities three or four times a week throughout Lent, and in the last or Passion-week every day—On the Thursday of Passion-week, the Metropolitan of St: Petersburg the highest ecclesiastical parsonage of the Empire washes the feet of twelve poor persons, in commemoration of the same act, performed by our Saviour to his Apostles the day before his crucifixion.—

The next day, that is on Good-Friday, there are in the Churches religious ceremonies specially allusive to the crucifixion, and a regular funeral procession to a place within each church where a scenical representation of the holy sepulchre is exhibited, and remains, lighted with lamps untill Easter day—

I saw this scene on the last Good-Friday, at the Roman Catholic Church in this City—It was in a chapel adjoining the great altar. In the middle of the Chapel was a transparent tomb within which was the image of a corpse, large as a man’s body. In the background was a view of Calvary with three Crucifixes standing and at a distance the temple of Jerusalem—At the foot of the tomb were the figures of two women, the Virgin Mary in the attitude of fainting, and Mary Magdalen: at the head were the images of two Angels, one of them bearing a canvass unrolled with the head of John the Baptist painted on it and in front of each end of the tomb, at a small distance from the figure of a soldier in the antient Roman armour to represent the guard mentioned in the gospels.—

This and similar exhibitions in all the Greek Churches are preparatory to the solemnities of Easter which celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and which are the most remarkable of all—

They begin precisely at Midnight by a religious ceremony which lasts between three and four hours—The signal for their Commencement in all the Churches of this City, is a Cannon fired from the fortress.—

I attended this year the celebration at the chapel in the Imperial Palace, where the foreign Ministers are not on this occasion invited, but where they are admitted and have a good stand secured to them as Spectators, if any of them chuse to be present—

I say a good stand, because it is one of the peculiarities of the Greek Church, that all their religious acts are performed standing—The only exceptions are occasional kneeling, and prostrations; but no person is ever allowed to sit—there is neither chair nor bench, nor seat of any kind in the Church. Between eleven and twelve at Night of Saturday, the day preceding Easter, I went to the Palace in full dress as to Court, and just before the Ceremony began was introduced into the Chapel, and placed at a station the most advantageous for witnessing all that was to take place.—

Precisely at Midnight the Cannon sounded from the fortress, and the Emperor entered the Chapel. He was accompanied by his Mother, and followed by two of his brothers, one Sister, and all his Court.—He took his stand within the Chancel on the right hand; and his Mother stood at his left—The princes and princess stood without the Chancel surrounded by the crowd of Ministers, Generals and Courtiers which filled the Chapel—

Eight or ten officiating Priests stood in a line before the Sanctuary, the doors of which on this occasion alone are open—and a Quire of Male singers was stationed behind a railing on either side of them—The singers are partly men grown and partly children; but the Greek Church allows no instrumental music, and no female voices.—

Some of the attendants in waiting, presented immediately to the Emperor and Empress Mother, and then to every other person in the chapel a small lighted wax taper, which every person took and held in hand during a part of the Ceremony—

Then the Quire of Singers commenced chanting a hymn, and marched out in procession, followed by the Priests, and the Emperor and Imperial family, walking two by two, and every one with the lighted taper in the hand—

They went out of the Chapel, and performed three times the round of three or four halls adjoining the Chapel, into which they then returned in the same order & resumed their respective Stations—

At the ordinary Churches this procession marches out into the Church-yard, or Street, and thrice round the building itself. It was followed at the Chapel by what I believe was a Mass; for my total ignorance of the language in which the solemnities are performed prevents me from understanding any thing that is said or sung—

At the close of it however, seven of the Priests ranged themselves in a line, each of them having a holy relic in his hand—The Emperor went up and kiss’d the relics and afterwards embraced the Priests themselves—The Empress mother and the other members of the Imperial family followed in succession and went through the same process, excepting that the Priests instead of being embraced by the Ladies, kiss’d their hands.—This however is a recent innovation, as the antient rule was that the women as well as the men should always on this occasion salute one another with a holy kiss.—

And the ceremony being considered as emblematical of the primitive equality of all Christian believers, and of the purity of Christian innocence, I find many persons here and of various ranks in Society who are by no means edified at the substitution of hand-kissing, for the good old smack upon the cheek and lips, which they boast of as having always been given at Easter, by the Empress Elizabeth, with indiscriminating favour, alike to men and women. The kissing is not confined to the Priest-hood—

Every individual in the chapel (not including strangers) was understood to have the privilege of going up and embracing the Emperor, and so many of them exercised it, that for a full hour he was employed in bestowing this mark of kindness upon everyone who chose to approach him—At the same time in every part of the chapel each individual was exchanging embraces with all the others around him, and in the course of the hour, I was witness to a multitude of kisses which it seemed to me would have satiated the greediness of Joannes Secundus—

After this operation was over a new religious ceremony began, the most remarkable part of which was the reading of the four gospels—There are four of the Priests, standing at desks, each one with his face towards one of the Cardinal points, who read in alternate succession, and by three verses at a time, a chapter from each of the four gospels, beginning with the first Chapter of St John—

This is meant to commemorate, and mark the fulfillment of the Saviour’s injunction to his disciples to preach the gospel to all the Nations of the Earth—It concluded by the Principal Priest’s taking the Communion; but without administering it to any other person. We came home between three and four in the Morning.—

This was the mere introduction to the Easter Holidays—I shall give you an account of them in another letter—The time draws near when I hope to have opportunities of writing to you directly—The lock of ice upon the Neva river was last-night broken open.—We are all Well.

From John Quincy Adams to Abigail Smith Adams, 
St: Petersburg 2. May 1811.

The religious ceremony of which in my last Letter I gave you an account, began at Midnight and terminated between three and four in the morning.—

It was accompanied by a Salute of 21. Guns fired from the Fortress, two or three times, at particular stages of the performance—This was conformable to the customary practice; which always ushers in Easter day at St: Petersburg with an expence of gunpowder and a volume of Sound, equal to that which in the good Town of Boston, introduces our Independence-Day—

This is only one of many particulars in which there are characteristic resemblances in the celebration of the two days—Thus, for example, they are both days of military Parade—At ten in the morning the Emperor reviewed all the troops then in this Metropolis, amounting to more than thirty thousand Men—Our military exhibitions are not so numerous, nor so splendid; but of these thirty thousand heroes, how many may never stand again to be reviewed on Easter-day!

In front of the Imperial Winter-Palace is a large and Magnificent Square, connected by a public walk in front of the Admiralty, with another square equally spacious and magnificent; In the centre of which is the marble Church of St: Isaac; with the incomparable equestrian Statue of Peter the Great before it, and further on in the same line a Bridge of Boats crossing the Neva, and the commencement of the Granit-sided Quay, which is one of the wonders of the reign of Catherine.—

A minute and sufficiently correct description of all these objects is contained in Porter’s sketches, which in one of your letters to me, you mention having read.—It is on these two Squares that the troops are drawn up, when reviewed by the Emperor, which he usually does every Sunday morning; but with peculiar solemnity on Easter-day—

But besides the splendor of appearance derived from this Parade, the Square of St: Isaac on these occasions is the scene of all the popular amusements which enliven the festivities of the Season—A number of slight buildings are erected on one side of the Square, in which from Easter-day untill and including the ensuing Sunday, continual exhibitions during the day-time are presented of Rope-dancers, Chinese-Shadows, puppet-shows, mechanical and optical representations, strange animals, and the like delights of the Populace, to the successive Crowds of People, who can afford a few copeeks for admission to each of these places of entertainment—

And to some of these temporary theatres, there are adjoined, an external stage or Balcony, upon which Punch and his wife, Jack-Pudding and Merry-Andrew occasionally sally from within, to allure by their antic tricks and the delicious sample of their Sports, the wavering Prudence of the simple youths, whose parsimony struggles with their love of pleasure, and whose Copeeks still linger in their pockets.—On each side of the Church are raised a number of Swings and Whirligigs, filled by a succession of men, women and children who keep them in perpetual motion,—The Swings consist of a suspended plank upon which three or four persons sit side by side, while upon each end of them stands a man or woman, who by the alternate pressure of their own weight keep the vibration constant from side to side, untill weariness puts an end to their sport.—

The Whirligigs are cross bars something like the wings of a wind-mill, with a large chair, or bucket suspended at the ends of each bar; in each of which two or three persons are seated, and which are swung round perpendicularly by machinery.—

Twenty or thirty of these two sorts of machines are ranged along close to one another, and intermixed together, which from Noon to Sun-set of every day, are incessantly whirling and balancing, all together, and as one set of the occupiers tires, instantly filled with another—Beyond them, on the side of the Equestrian Statue, are two sliding hills, another of the amusements peculiar to this Country.—

At the amusements of the Butter-week, which are in February, they are erected on the river, and are called ice-hills—an accurate description, is given of them in Porter’s 15th: letter, and they have indeed so often been described that I shall spare you the repetition of the same thing here—At Easter–time the Ice upon the river is usually so much weakened, and the weather in the day time so warm, that the real Ice–Hills can no longer be enjoyed—But so fascinating is this pastime to the common People here, that they substitute these artificial Imitations of the Ice-hills in their stead—

The Construction of the Stages is the same—But the inclined planes down which they slide, and the flat between the Stages at their feet, are laid with Planks, and the sledges upon which the Sliders go down are upon little wheels or rollers, confined on each side by a small channel in which they must run.—Of these Sports, only the lowest classes of the People partake; but every afternoon during the week, the People of better condition, that is every body who owns or can hire a Carriage, ride in procession round the two Squares for two or three hours, beholding all these amusements of the nobility, and at the same time exhibiting themselves, and their Carriages, and Liveries and Horses, in Spectacle to one Another—

The Imperial family occasionally appear two or three times every year in these processions, and the Emperor himself sometimes attends them on horseback.

On Monday, the day after Easter, a levee or Diplomatic Circle is held by the Emperor, at the Winter Palace, where according to the appropriate phrase of Etiquette, he and the Imperial family receive the felicitations of the foreign Ministers.—Felicitations for what? do you ask?—For the Resurrection of Christ: to the celebration of which all these festivities are devoted—

In all the religious ceremonies and in all the traditionary usages of this Week, there is some allusion to that great event.—The kiss promiscuous, so disgusting to Porter, and so delightful to Carr, (for these two British travellers, both rapturous sentimentalists, were very differently affected by a fashion, which custom here soon flatters into indifference as much to those who behold, as to those who practice it)_this kiss which levels all distinctions both of rank and sex, and which the Imperial Consort of Russia must in the rigour of principle bestow upon the meanest moozhik who presents her an egg, is nothing more than a recognition of that universal equality and brotherhood which Jesus came to proclaim to the whole human race; and as to the egg, which puzzles all the travellers so much to account for, what more expressive emblem could have been chosen to express that eternal life, bursting from the shell of mortality, of which the Resurrection of Jesus was the first fruit, and the most precious pledge?—

The custom of giving eggs, is as universal as that of kissing—Servants give them to their masters—Friends interchange them with one another, and it is an act of delicate gallantry from a Gentleman to a Lady—On presenting the egg, the giver pronounces the words “Christos Voskrest”—Christ is risen—to which the receiver answers “Voistinnoi Voskrest”—He is indeed risen; and then the salutation succeeds. The common people who can afford no more, give real, hard boiled hens eggs, with the shells dyed red—But persons in easier circumstances give artificial eggs, of paste-board, wood, glass, marble, porcellain, candied sugar, and in short of almost every material that can be fashioned into the shape—

Boxes of Sugar-plums assume this form in presents for children, much to the entertainment of master Charles; and it can take even the shape of a Lady’s work-bag; not to call it on so serious an occasion a Ridicule—The windows of innumerable shops in the City are decorated with multitudes of these artificial eggs, of various sizes, suspended by silk ribbons of all the gaudy Colours, and of various prices from five Copeeks to a hundred rubles—

They are also hawked about the streets by the Carriers of Ginger Bread, and sugar-candy—In short these objects are so multiplied at these times before the eyes of a Stranger to the Custom, that he would almost be induced to believe that in Russia, breeding eggs, and kissing, was the business of human life.

On Easter-day the seven-weeks Fast is at an end. Many of those whose abstemiousness has been carried to an excess which physical Nature can scarcely support, now plunge into the other excess, of bestial gluttony and drunkenness. The habits of intoxications to which the Russian Populace are addicted, have often been noticed—It is the natural vice of those who have not the means of indulging others.—

But there is a singular character of harmlessness in the ebriety of this People—Among the multitudes whom I daily meet staggering and sprawling about the Streets, I have never witnessed any thing like a fray, and scarcely ever any thing like a brawl—This quietude is partly owing to the submissive Spirit of the Nation, and partly to the rigorous vigilance of the Police—

Every Police officer, of the lowest class has the privilege of using the cudgel over the backs of the populace at discretion; and so faithfully is the privilege exercised, and so numerous are the Police–Officers, that on the slightest symptom of disorder by a moozhik in the Streets, he receives the immediate admonition of a severe bastonade, from some little, spare green-coated Beadle, who seems as if to start out of the ground for that single purpose, administers the discipline without speaking a word, and then vanishes with as little noise as he appeared. The regularity and absolute power of the Police is equally visible in the tranquility with which the crowds of People assembled at the Sports disperse immediately after Sun-set—

In the course of half an hour the sliding-hills are deserted, the Whirligigs and Swings are emptied and unmoveable, the hundreds and even thousands of equipages have retired, the bustle of the throng has given place to silence and Solitude, and the Square just swarming with festive myriads is as quiet and unfrequented as the Streets of an American City On a Sunday.—

The change of its appearance after the close of the Holidays is still more remarkable—In twenty-four hours the Sliding-hills, the whirligigs, the Swings and the Theatres have all disappeared, the Square resumes its customary appearance, and not a trace remains of the motley multitudes which have been eight-days reveling upon it.

Besides the Great Lent, before Easter, there are three other fasting terms in the course of the year—One called the Fast of St: Peter—thirty–one days in May and June—One from the 1st: to the 15th: of August, called the Fast of the Mother of God—and the fourth from the 15th: of November to Christmas day—They are not quite so rigorously kept as the great one, but they are all preceded and followed by one or more days of festivity and intemperance.

Thus much for Russian Holidays and Fasts—If you incline to slumber over this account of them, or any other of my frequent letters, I can only beg you to consider them as apologies for repeating to you as often as possible, that we are well, and ever faithfully your’s.

“From John Quincy Adams to Abigail Smith Adams, 24 April 1811,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-03-02-1956.

1785 John Adams (1735-1826) & Abigail Adams (1744-1818) write of Easter Week celebrations in France

John Adams by William Winstanley, 1798

John Adams noted in his journal Easter Week activities in France.
Good Friday.  Went in the afternoon to Longchamps. This is the last Day. Every year; the wednesday, thursday, and friday, of the week preceding Esther, which is called Semaine Sainte, there is a kind of procession in the Bois de Boulogne, and it is called Longchamps. There are perhaps each of those Days a thousand carriages, that come out of Paris to go round one of the Roads in the wood one after the other. There are two rows of carriages, one goes up and the other down so that the People in every carriage, can see all the others. Every body that has got a splendid carriage, a fine set of horses, or an elegant Mistress, send them out on these days to make a show at longchamps. As all the Théatres, and the greatest part of the public amusements, are shut all this week, the concourse is always very considerable for those, that cannot go there to be seen, go to see, and as it commonly happens upon the like occasions, there are always twenty to see for one there is to be seen. It is very genteel, for there are always there some of the first people in the kingdom. The hours are from five to seven, by which time very few carriages remain there; for they all go off together, so that one quarter of an hour before the place is entirely deserted, the concourse is the greatest. The origin of this curious custom, was this. There is a convent of women called Longchamps, somewhere near the Bois de Boulogne, where formerly, there was some very fine music, performed on these days, which drew a vast number of Persons out from Paris to hear it: but one year there was an uncommon concourse, and some disorders happened, which induced the Archbishop of Paris, to forbid this music on these days, but the Public, who had commonly taken a ride round part of the wood after hearing the music, continued taking the latter part of the amusement, when they were deprived of the first, and the custom has been kept up, to this day.
After it was over we went and drank tea with Dr. Franklin. Saw Mr. Dalrymple there. The weather is very cold and disagreeable yet.
See:  The Adams Papers, Diary of John Quincy Adams, vol. 1, November 1779 – March 1786, ed. Robert J. Taylor and Marc Friedlaender. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981, p. 239.

John Thaxter (1755-1791) had written to his cousin Abigail Adams (1744-1818) of the pre-Easter celebrations at Longchamps in 1783. Thaxter was a law student of John Adams, tutor to the Adams children, and John Adams's foreign secretary.

Paris 18th April 1783  Madam
For about three Weeks in the Time of Lent, the Play Houses are shut up, on account of its being a Season for the Care (not Cure) of Souls. To a City so much accustomed to Amusements as Paris, this is a Time of Mourning and Sadness. Horse racing and Bull baiting have been invented to fill up a part of this Interval of Sorrow. But what is called the Fête des longs Champs, or long Fields, is the most brilliant. About five Miles from Paris, there is a Place by the Name of Longs Champs, where formerly there was a Chapel, to which the Citizens and others peregrinated in this holy Time, to hear Mass. They made this Pilgrimage three times a Year, on the 16. 17. and 18th. of April.1 But as all human Institutions are imperfect and perpetually subject to Change, even this holy one has not been exempt from the common Lot. From a Pilgrimage to hear the word of God and sing his Praises, it has been metamorphosed into a Procession, to shew elegant Carriages, splendid Liveries and Equipage, &c. &c. Whether the Transition is natural or not, I am not to determine, but I believe one to be quite as rational as the other. They are both ridiculous enough. Upon the whole, I think the Procession much more sensible than the Pilgrimage. I am an Enemy to all Pilgrimages, except those which a Lover is obliged to make to a distant Mistress. There is good Sense in this, but to travel under Pretence of praying to this Saint or that Apostle, is a mere blind, and a villanous Tax on the Charity of the benevolent, given to the Drones of Society. But to return to Longs Champs—I went yesterday to see the Procession. All the Beauties of the Court and City were there, many of them in elegant Carriages, with Horses beautifully harnessed, and Servants in Livery. There were several thousand Carriages. The Crowd of People was immense. There were all Sorts of Characters of both Sexes. A ragged Coachman, an old or dirty Carriage or a slovenly ill dressed Servant, were objects of Ridicule and Hissing. It was diverting enough to hear the Speeches that were made yesterday, and to see the different Effects they produced on different Characters. The Crowd press so near the Carriages as they pass, that one hears every Observation they make on Men, Women, Servants, Horses and Carriages. Whoever can brave Laughter and Ridicule may venture out with an old Coach and poor Horses, but the bashful and timid had better remain at home. In one word, they are three days of Show of new Carriages, new Harness for Horses and new Livery for Servants. There is a kind of Emulation and Rivalry among them. And very often a Miss surpasses every one in Elegance and Brilliancy. Last Year, I was told, there appeared a Miss, in an elegant Carriage drawn by six superb Horses. She so far exceeded in Grandeur and Splendor every one else, that She was forbid ever appearing at Longs Champs again. I dare say, You will think this Circumstance a sufficient Comment on the whole Business, and that it is unnecessary to give any Opinion about the Matter. There are Hints enough as to Origin, Change and present Stage of the Amusement of Longs Champs. Your own Reflections will be infinitely more judicious than any I can make, and therefore I will be silent as to the Impressions this Entertainment has made on my Mind. I am happy to close this Account of the Entertainment of yesterday, by informing You, that notwithstanding the Crowd of Gentlemen on Horseback and Carriages was so prodigious, yet the excellent Arrangement of the Foot Soldiers and Dragoons was such, that not a single Accident happened. This was the Work of the Police, who at other Times experience as large a Share of Maledictions as any Class of People whatever.
See: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 5, October 1782 – November 1784, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 127–130.


Abigail Adams by Gilbert Stuart

Later in the 1785 spring, Abigail Adams  (1744-1818) wrote to her niece Elizabeth Cranch, 8 May 1785.

Auteuil May 8 1785
Yes my dear Neice, it was a Ceremony that one must study Some time to find out either utility or pleasure in it. I own tho I made one in the procession I could not help feeling foolish as I was parading first up one side of a very wide road, for a mile and half and then turning, and following down a vast number of Carriages upon the other as slow as if you was attending a funeral. By this adjustment you see, one row of Carriages are constantly going up, whilst the others are comeing down, so that each calvicade have a fair view of each other, and this is call’d going to Long Champs.
About the 3d of Feb’ry the Carnival begins. During this time there is great festivity amongst the Parissians, the operas are more frequent, and Mask’d Balls succeed them. The Theaters are crowded, and every place is gay. But upon the 27 of March, or the Sunday upon which the celebration of the passion of our Saviour commences, the Theaters are closed, and continue so during 3 weeks. Lent lasts six weeks, all of which is fill’d up with Church ceremonies, one of which is the Kings washing the feet of a dozen poor Boys, and the Queen as many Girls, after which they give them a dinner in the Palace at which their Majesties and the princiss of the Blood, attend them at table, the princes and Lords carrying the plates. There is an other ceremony which is call’d the day of Branches. The people go very early to mass, before day light and continue a long time at it, after which the Priests go forth preceeded by some Church officer, with a large picture of our Saviour, and an other with a silver cross. The people follow two, and two, Men Women and Children with Branches in their hands, and Book[s] chanting their prayers. They go to kneel and pray before the crusifix one of which is placed upon the Road in every villiage. There are 3 days also when a peice of the Real and true Cross, as they say is shewn in the holy Chapel of  Paris, and every good Catholick kisses it. Then comes holy Sunday when every body goes to Church and the Night it begins the Clergy make a solemn procession into the Halls of the palace at 3 oclock in the morning, and as nothing is performed here without the assistance of the Military, the Commandant of the Watch sends two Companies to escort this procession. But neither the Concert Spiritual which is held three times a week in the Château des Tuileries, nor all the ceremonies of the Church can compensate with the sad Parissians for the absence of the Plays. To fill up the time and vary the Amusement, this parade at Long Champs was invented. It continues 3 days. The place is about one mile from hence. It is a fine plain upon each side of which are rows of trees, like Germantown Woods. Here the Parissians appear with their Superb equipages drawn by six fleet Coursers, their Horses and servants gayly drest. All kinds of Carriages are to be seen here, from the clumsy fiacre to the gilded Chariot, as well as many Gentleman on horse Back and swarms of people on foot. The city Gaurds make no small part of the shew, for the Maré Chaussee6 as they are call’d are placed along in rows between the Carriages, and are as despotick as their Master. Not a Coach dares go an inch from its rank, nor one carriage force it self before an other, so that notwithstanding there are many thousands collected upon this occasion, you see no disorder. But after all it is a senseless foolish parade, at which I believe I shall never again assist.
See:  The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 6, December 1784 – December 1785, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 130–132.