This is a very, very old post - I was too lazy to translate the information about the places we visited and now, as the exams are approaching and I'm sick of heat exchangers and viscosity of yogurt, I finally got around to doing it.
At the end of September, on a warm Sunday, I visited the first mass ever in my whole life. As you might have heard, Czech Republic is one of the most atheist countries in the whole world, so it makes sense I've never been to a church for other purposes than tourism, and since Philippines are on the other hand one of the most Christian countries, it also makes sense I went there with Gerald (about a week before he asked me out).
My outfit made my classmates joke about whether it was a secret wedding (Dress - Guerrisol, off brand, bag - mum's, jacket - Zara, Guerrisol, socks - Orsay, shoes - FF).
Gerald picked St. Joseph's Passionist (and most importantly, English-speaking) church near Arc de Triomphe. It is a moder church with the main part being actually underground.
I was quite nervous as we were sitting down, because I thought I wouldn't have any idea of what to do (and Gerald had to show me when to stand, kneel, talk or read all the time). But surprisingly, I didn't feel really out of place or awkward. I loved the songs both the choir and the visitors sang and the mass was very interesting, especially the middle part where the priest talked about contemporary topics and events and interpreted the texts from the book. And after the mass, people could go and talk to the priest and there were cookies and hot drinks in front of the church. It seemed that many people knew each other and were chatting. Gerald also said there were many Filipinos there.
So, all in all, I'm not exactly going to convert immediately, but I would actually say that the mass was an experience enjoyable and interesting enough for me to want to go again.
Then we headed to the gardens opened during the Fete des Jardins - an event when even gardens normally closed to the public are open for a day or two.
The first one belonged to Saint-Francois Xavier. This garden had around 500 m square (which is only 25 x 20 or so) and contained mostly of aromatic plants, healing herbs, and plants with biblical connotations.
While walking towards the next garden on our schedule, we stumbled upon the house where Yves Saint Laurent lived.
A random garden whose name I forgot >.<
The next garden was my absolute favorite. Les Missions Etrangeres (Missions abroad) were founder in 1649 in Rome by the Jesuits. P. Alexandre de Rhodes managed to persuade the pope and many priests, that believers in countries where Christianity has barely just arrived need guidance and help, and he managed to find four vicars to go abroad. One went to Canada and the remaining three to Asia - different parts of China and Korea. Other priests and laïcs accompanied them, but many died on the way. Gradually, more people were sent also to other parts of China and Korea, to Japan, Malaysia, Tibet, Taiwan etc. It is still active today and new missionaries are being sent to Asia annually.
It took 70 years to build this garden and it is full of Asian references. Some of the missionaries sent to Japan and China were interested in botany and they brought back plant samples, especially roses.
This chapel, whose roof evokes a Chinese hat, was used by the seminarians of the Misisons to pray together every month after the missionaries left for Asia. They lit a candle with the names of those left for these occasions. It was probably linked to the sinking of a ship going to China, as 8 missionaries were on board.
This Chinese bell was offered as a gift to the Missions by an army official coming back from Canton. It was dedicated to a Buddhist goddess.
The stele was offered by the cathedral of Soul as a gift to honor the martyrs from Korea. The turtle is a symbol of longevity and Earth. The stele itself then has inscriptions of the martyrs' names, and on top, there are two dragons, symbols of the Sky. Therefore, the stele symbolizes the union of Earth and Sky that is present in Humanity.
The botanical garden (which we just ran through)
Interesting place we passed by:
Second hand book about Prague: