The fortifications of Cercy have been torn down and rebuilt on many occasions in the past eight centuries apparently, with the tower ("la Tour" from which it takes its name) taking a right old tumble during the Revolution and only having been partially rebuilt thereafter. There’s a monument atop the bit where the tower once was which arrived quite late in the piece, the current version having been erected just before our last visit actually, which goes a long way to explaining how it was so spectacularly bright in the photos we took at the time.
It is inarguably a beautiful piece of sculpture, and replaced a somewhat less attractive piece of similar intent which had previously stood for fifty years. That one had been erected to mark the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the vision at Lourdes apparently although given that we are presently seven hundred or so kilometres from Lourdes the connection isn’t immediately clear to those of us without this particular ecclesiastical bent.
I suspect this twenty-first century interpretation of the pose that is all things saintly was intended to portray supplication with a touch of humility, or protection perhaps for those below, and for the majority of its intended audience I am sure it succeeds.
I am afraid to say it struck a different chord with me.
There she stands, towering over us wordlessly, her eyes meeting ours. The body language is unmistakably motherly. The interpretation is clear:
“How many times do I have to tell you to clean up this mess?”.
When we leave tomorrow morning, it will be on the cleanest boat on the Canal du Nivernais.