|Convent of the Paraclete|
Listening to the library's offerings, I fell in love with a wonderful series set in medieval France—the Catherine LeVendeur mysteries by Sharan Newman, a medieval historian who also writes a darn good mystery with a bit of romance. The first book, DEATH COMES AS EPIPHANY, opens at the Convent of the Paraclete where Catherine is a young scholar under the Abbess Heloise (yes, the same star-crossed lover of Peter Abelard). The story weaves Catherine’s story in with the history of the famous lovers and their son, and brings the world of the convent, its people to life brilliantly. So, naturally, I decided that a pilgrimage to the Paraclete was a must for a road trip in France in 1998. Easier said than done.
Somehow the abbey had fallen into obscurity over the years and after hours and hours of pouring over travel books, all I found was a single mention in a list of historical sites in the Aube. Determined to visit the place that had captured my imagination, I examined page after page of maps at 1”=1/4 mi scale until I finally found in tiny print: Le Paraclet near the town of Ferreux-Quincey. Victory! I knew our detour would take a couple of hours and Steve navigated while I drove the narrow back roads, winding through countryside tourists usual by-passed. And then we were there. A sign in front of the stone wall informed us the abbey compound was open from July 1 to July 31. It was early June. Disappointed, we went on without even taking a photo-- something I now regret.
Have you ever made an eccentric “literary pilgrimage”? How did it turn out?