I held an event at the Owl Bookshop in London during June 2015 to discuss my latest book, The Fortune Seller. Thanks to Andrew Gough for the footage.
I saw him in the church of St Germain as he passed beside me on his way from the altar quite unexpected. Out of nowhere he was there.
He was beautifully made and moved with the sureness and ease of a performer. His sun-streaked fair hair – long to his shoulder – had life and style no hairdresser could improve.
Then I saw he was wearing a knee-length, white robe in soft fabric, held with a simple clasp. He walked barefoot, a substantial chain around one ankle. I saw his face for a mere moment; it did not give away any age. It was a perfect face, the exquisite eyes; blue-green filled with the joy and glory he had recently beheld.
Other people did not seem to notice him as he made his graceful way through the clusters of tourists and local Parisians, and I was too absorbed in him at that time to find it strange.
Later, I realised his exceptional charisma should have commanded attention anywhere, but not, it seemed, in this famed church. He was clean, pure, filled with light that came from being close to the sea in sweet air and kind sun. Of course, he was a movie star. He did not hesitate as a visitor might, and as though knowing this place well, he continued towards the exit but did not reach it. He just was not there.
Like a light bulb pinging out, he was gone.
Had he knelt by one of the saint’s statues – out of sight – or opened a side-door to an inner chamber? What had happened when he reached the exit? Did he continue barefoot across the pavement to the Deux Magots Café? Had he left his sandals at the entrance in the care of the beggar?
Or did he live nearby, perhaps around the corner leading to the Place Furstenberg? Or was he allowed in this church to fill himself with divinity, theological study or divine meditation? Or he didn’t exist in this earth reality at all?
I turned to my friend, surprised she had not commented and I asked what she had thought. She had not seen him.
“The altar is made of stone from the Pyrenees,” she said. Then she remembered she had been aware of a sudden perfume – unlike any other, and it had faded slowly. I finally decided he was an archetype of Jesus that I had been privileged to see. A few days later I recalled a man had mentioned on a Facebook post a being in the church of St Germain. He had remarked on his indescribable beauty and the fact no one else seemed to have noticed him.
Had others, he enquired, witnessed this phenomenon that moved with such familiarity in the dim light? I wondered if he was an eccentric compelled to dress up in this raiment and make appearances in the church.
But for what reason had so few – it seemed – witnessed them? Or were we into something else altogether?