Searching for the music origin of Sting's wonderful winter ballad 'You Only Cross My Mind In Winter' - being the Cello Suite No.6 'Sarabande' composed by Johann Sebastian Bach - I found by sheer chance a video with the legendary Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovitsj, who played particularly this Suite on the spacious plaza in front of one of the most impressive Roman churches in Europe: the magnificent, eight centuries old Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in Vézelay, near Avallon, France.

What an amazing coincidence: Rostropovitsj played this music on the same plaza and exactly on the same spot where I was standing a few months before on Sunday morning July 7. 2013, surrounded by more than a 1000 men !

Men, who at the same instant that I was there, ended their Pilgrimage of the Family Fathers- le Pèlerinage des Pères de Famille. During this pilgrimage of several days they pray to the Patron Saint of all fathers: Saint Joseph, praying for his mercy and blessings to be a good family father as well. His celebration day is still a well known holiday in France.
The unique and unforgettable service at the end of the pilgrmage in and outside the basilica is a spiritual climax for all these men.
The basilica of Vézelay is also an important departure- and halting-place in the well-known pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella.

The rugged, unpolished and moving voices of these more than a thousand (!) loudly singing and devoted men deeply impressed me and I was crying and singing at the same time.
While I was standing in the basilica during the service next to a French pilgrim family-father, he showed and held the song-textbook between us so that I could also be part of this overwhelming special service. After a while he asked me from which region I was coming and he really was stunned when I answered: "De Pays Bas" ( From the Netherlands ).
After my explanation why I was there again after more than 40 years, he exclaimed: "Ahh, so you are a pilgrim as well, like we all are...." ( in French, of course ).

After the service on the sun-drenched plaza in front of the basilica we were feasted with a lot of cool white and pink wine and delicacies as a grateful gift from the local French Bishop, concluding this unique pilgrimage in a festive way.

Relying on my knowledge of the French language, I became a pilgrim myself, part of the 1000 men around me.

Meanwhile I remembered the many precious moments I spent here with my (at that time young) family at several occasions some 40 years ago.
At that time the French Morvan-region was for 4 or 5 years our favourite holiday destination and from our vacation address then, Vézelay was quite close. Mainly owing to my architectural interest and curiosity we visited the basilica several times.

Then in my thirties, the architecture and craftmanship of the majestic building impressed me as I remembered many details from that time. Now it overwhelmed me all the more: my life had changed radically because I was there alone now as a widower without the love of my life, the basilica was unchanged in all its timeless glory and grandeur.

In spite of the fact that I did not walk along endless, dusty trails with a sun-faded backpack and on rugged high walking shoes, but came up there as a devoted pilgrim on my way through Aix-en-Provence, finding here my most cherished memories, nevertheless I felt myself very much united with all these 'Pères de Famille'.
And obviously I enjoyed several ( ! ) glasses pink bishop's wine as well with quite a valid excuse: the temperature on the plaza was 30 degrees Celsius at that moment at noon. The cool refreshing wine was so to speak 'Heavenly Blessed'.

Impressions and memories I will never ever forget . . . .

Sting's magnificent ballad You Only Cross My Mind In Winter, Johann Sebastian Bach, the Bishop's pink summer wine (avec plusieurs de verres de l'amitié à Vézelay) and the virtuosic Russian cellist Rostropovitsj as a connecting link.

Never ever, I could have figured out or thought out such a miraculous and spiritual encounter:
it happened and I was there, right before my very eyes.


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Click on the picture when you like to hear and see Bach's Sarabande for Cello, played on the plaza in front of the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in Vézelay.

And push forward the time-slider to Sarabande at 19:15 minutes for an auditive impression. And click away the possible occurring ad banner.