I went to Paris for my French book tour, and over that weekend, I tried to go to Notre Dame on my birthday! But instead, I ended up going to a wonderful restaurant on the Left Bank and some art supply stores.
The next day happened to be Palm Sunday, so I went to Notre Dame, but it was closed for the Mass – or so I thought! I stood out of the way of the tourist lines, at the center gate, when suddenly there was a waft of incense and big palm fronds coming around the side of the cathedral.
The priests came up right behind me, slightly budged me to one side, unlocked the iron gates, knocked on the huge cathedral doors, and began the Palm Sunday Mass right there!
I was swept inside along with them, with all the tourists following behind, and I attended my first French Mass ever since I wrote The Eight! (I still have the “program,” including the French liturgy and the convocation of the College of Cardinals meeting that week.