Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng getheilt,
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.1
On the afternoon of day five I arrived in Vézelay. It is not only a beautiful village but also features an abbey that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Camino de Santiago Via Lemovicensis. Located on a hill on the site of a former roman villa and temple it is still mostly fortified featuring a main entrance, two side portals and a new rather hidden back entrance.
Before going intramuros I found a hotel-restaurant whose employees allowed me kindly to charge my batteries using a socket for outdoor lights. They also recommended me to not sleep at the camping municipal of Vézelay, but the one of neighbouring Asquins. After locking my scooter, I took my valuables and entered the fortified hill.
The city had a long history of maneuvering between the interests and influence of local nobles, bishops, popes, french kings and other rulers and was economically pretty prosperous for a long time.
The abbey’s UNESCO status, the role for pilgrims and the charming buildings create a bit of specialised religious tourism. But it felt not at all as full or crowded like the Mont Saint-Michel or similar places.
The place feels quite magical and I was in a wandering state of mind when I saw the church.
When I entered the nave a service held by local monks was taking place. The church was almost empty due to corona and I decided to wait and listen to the chorus and the sermon.
The sermon started with a monk who preached about the health and the epidemic situation with prayers for the sick, the isolated and the health care workers. Then a nun talked about the migration in Europe, how the fortress of Europe is an abomination and how we could ever let the mare nostrum become a cold grave on purpose. It continued how we as a European Union betray our ideals, the reason we came together and values that are hold universally, namely that one ought to help those in need, to share with those next to us and to be welcoming to everyone.
Her words really broke me. I started crying (silently, I don’t want to disturb the others) and thought about how right she was and how wrong I and we were. What kind of cruelties we commit directly and let to be committed in our name. I walked around the back of the church, called a dear fried on the phone and reflected about what happened.
After a long and deep conversation with my friend and looking into the distance and the horizon I went back to the scooter and rode to Asquins.
The camping was indeed very nice. Next to a river, with old trees, hedges against wind, a semi-open hut for communal eating and good sanitary installations. Prices were good too.
I built up my tent and walked over the bridge. Asquins itself is a cute village with some food stores and a mixture of café,bar, newspaper stand, lottery place and gas station where I talked with the locals and drank a bit of red wine. Somehow I did not really connect to them, and went to my tent soon afterwards.