TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK LA ROQUE
Should I even be here? I'm not entirely sure. My lack of faith, in many ways, has me feeling like an intruder. There's nothing public about this space — It's so obviously private, a hush permeating every square inch. Empty corridors, empty stairways, empty classrooms with empty chairs. The echoes of a bustling fraternity have long since faded, lost in the aftermath of the Quiet Revolution.
We enter a chapel I never knew existed and there's no one here but us. My friend signs himself; I simply bow my head in respect. He leads me to a door behind the altar: "I want to show you something" he says. There's a metal staircase leading down to the original foundations and... A crypt — A long room lined with dirt on either side and tombs dating back to the 1600s, a shovel making it clear this is not only about past, but present and future as well.
I walk in reverence, whispering.
We pass through another door and enter what first seems like a semi-abandoned storage area. But there's life here: potted plants are being tended to, small projects are obviously underway... And yet it's all perfectly still and frozen. In one room I find pictures, newspaper clippings, empty bottles and what appear to be small bone fragments on a shelf, all of it spanning decades or more; like the accumulated knick knacks of an immortal.
This is a refuge.
I feel the awe of the explorer — And the guilt-ridden pangs of the invader.