Nearing the steeple of Sacre Coeur Basilica, Juno sensed a familiar personality coating the travertine stone. Do not be so shallow as to dismiss the notion that buildings too possess souls. Architecture is no stranger to personality. Hospitals are as easily identifiable without a red cross just as churches are illuminated even in the absence of a golden one. The Sacre Coeur Basilica did not resonate with such bright spirit, however. Whatever essence of the Judeo-Christian god that supposedly existed there had been overwhelmed by a more relevant voice. That dark tenor spoke silently from the columns and rippled mockingly atop basins of holy water. It laughed a different laugh at each stage of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. The voice was darkness, and it was responsible for the vandalized fresco staring down from the ceiling of the church, as well as the revisions marked in the Gospel. Red ink bled over what were once holy passages, and when they were recited from the altar that sinister personality was there to mentor the reader, too. And Juno knew this voice in all its ancient familiarity, for it was one that had existed since the beginning of her time. But, suddenly, there were two voices joining as one, but one of the speakers had never uttered credence until this day, and that voice chimed like honey, singing a sweet tenor that was both lovely, violent and deadly: “Walk with me. Back. Back. Back. And sing with me My song of fire and stone.” And from there, there was nothing but rhythmic humming to bear forewarning.
Prayer was in session but the word of the Gospel cast shadows; shadows inked in red – a stain cast by lava upon stone. Absent light disguised as visible salvation was guiding the hearts and minds of those joining in worship, shepherding them towards wicked pastures. The Red Gospel: a utility to hijack one’s faith and to realign all notions of good and evil.
Juno and Minerva entered Sacre Coeur Basilica with their heads down and their hands clasped. They avoided the holy water at the entrance – whoever’s it may be – and took their place at the back of the congregation while the sheep joined in song:
As I kneel before you,
As I bow my head in prayer,
Take this day, make it yours
and fill me with your love.
All I have I give you,
Every dream and wish are yours,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of mine, present them to my Lord.
As I kneel before you,
And I see your smiling face,
Ev’ry thought, ev’ry word
Is lost in your embrace.