|The Moser gang at Versailles|
|St. Peter's in Rome|
|Eiffel Tower in Paris|
Together we marveled at God's handiwork from our vantage point on top of the Alps at Mt. Pilatus, and at man's ingenuity as we took a fast train under the English channel from Paris to London.
|The Roman Colosseum|
We were humbled by history as we saw the tomb of St. Peter, the Roman Colosseum, the actual armor of Henry VIII, and the stunning St. Paul's Cathedral in London where I remember watching Princess Diana get married back when I was a young mother . . .
|On the top of the Alps |
|Marie Antoinette and her children|
Adding to my interest of her, was the revelation that this Marie Antoinette was the same girl I'd written about in my bio-novel Mozart's Sister. As a child Maria Antonia had heard the young Mozart and his sister Nannerl give a recital in her family's palace in Vienna. When five-year-old Wolfgang tripped during the concert, Maria helped him to his feet. The impulsive little Wolfgang kissed her, said he was going to marry her, and then had the gall to climb into the lap of Maria's mother, the empress. That girl was this woman...
At Versailles, as I stood with my own family beside me and looked upon this grown up Maria Antonia--Marie Antoinette--I learned of another family's trip, taken in an attempt to flee France during the chaos and danger of the French Revolution. As the masses of the suffering poor rose up against the decadence of the ruling class, Marie's world of luxury crumbled around her. So she and her husband the king fled with their three children, hoping to escape to monarchy-friendly Montmédy in northeast France. But before they could find freedom they were caught and returned to Paris. All were imprisoned, and Marie and Louis were eventually beheaded by the mobs who demanded satisfaction.
But what of the children in the painting? There is an empty cradle in the background that sorrowfully represents Marie's youngest daughter Sophie who had died during the painting of the portrait, just before her first birthday. The oldest daughter, Marie Therese, standing at her mother's right, was exiled to Austria. She married but was childless. The little boy, Louie Joseph--the heir--died of TB during the tumulutuous political times, and the baby on her mother's lap (Louie Charles) died in prison. And so the Bourbon line of France was destroyed.
Seeing this painting, hearing this story, walking beside my own husband and children, I felt compassion for this queen. This woman. This mother.
It would not be the last time I would count my blessings on this trip . . .