Monday, June 02, 2003

Joan d'Blog.

Got a Nigerian scam e-mail at the office this morning. Well, I would hardly feel connected with the Global Village if I didn't get one every now and then. But maybe I'm blaming Nigeria thoughtlessly. The message purported to be from someone with an African-sounding name -- Ndaba something, I think -- and the subject line read "Eagarly [sic] Seeking Your Most Urgent Assistance." So perhaps it was from some entrepreneurs in Tanzania, Ghana or Liberia. No, that last one's still a smoking ruin.

Not to pick on any particular nation, but those are examples of places were English has enough currency to inspire e-mail messages with spelling mistakes a native speaker might make (and does often, if American teenage bloggers are any indication). Probably con men from Cote d'Ivoire or Gabon are busy trying to relieve the French of their euros electronically.

A few more postings about Milwaukee to go. It seems that no matter where I go, it creates about a week's worth of material. On Memorial Day, we woke early for no good reason, and I fetched Krispy Kreme for breakfast, and we were soon on our way. We took pleasantly empty surface streets back from the suburban Brookfield toward Marquette University, which is near downtown. The university sports a place called the Joan of Arc Chapel on its campus.

The Catholic Information Network has this to say about this Milwaukee curiosity: "This 15th century Gothic oratory, the Chapelle de St. Martin de Sayssuel, was built in the French village of Chasse, near Lyon. When the architect Jacques Couelle discovered it after the First World War and helped arrange its relocation to Long Island, New York, in 1926. In 1964 the chapel was given to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was reconstructed on the campus and dedicated to St. Joan of Arc."

Further investigation suggests that the story of this building isn't quite as simple as that, meaning that only some of it came from Chasse, with other bits from other places added at various times, along with a modern infrastructure. So perhaps it's more of a reconstituted chapel, rather than a reconstructed one, but it's remarkable that any part of any 15th-century French church building made it to the Western Hemisphere in the 20th century. However, if I were St. Martin of Saysseul, I would be annoyed that Joan of Arc's name was pasted on my chapel. I suppose the elders of Marquette thought that Joan had more name recognition, as indeed she does. Probably they didn't take the English version of her career into account, either.

Otherwise Marquette's campus is a mix of older buildings, middle-aged buildings from the age of academic ugly (ca. 1950-80), and more recent structures, some good looking. Few other people were around, except campus cops who had clearly decided we were no threat, and so ignored us. The chapel is tucked away among larger things, and it took us a while to find it. It was closed. The outside was nice, but we had also wanted to see the stained glass on the inside, too.

Ah, well. Joan d'Arc Chapel joins the list of places I went to see, but couldn't -- not fully, anyway -- a diverse group that includes several sites in Rome, such as the Pantheon (closed, because part of it had collapsed and killed a tourist the year before, in 1982), the view from atop the Los Angeles City Hall (closed for renovations in the summer of 2001), and the giant Torii (Gate) of Itsukushima on Miyajima near Hiroshima, which was enveloped by scaffolding that fine spring day in 1993.


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