I have a moment and I’m taking advantage of it to send you a few lines, while Fr. Marie is walking in Scutari. We are all very well and we are marvelously at home in this nice individual house that the Lazarist Fathers indicated to us.
We would have left for Smyrne today, but the boat service is disorganised, and we have to wait until Thursday or Friday.
Now what can I tell you about the beautiful town of Constantinople? I travelled all over it and the more I see of it, the more I admire. There are some magnificent things, we visited several mosques, the most beautiful of which is certainly Saint Sophie’s in Stamboul; it was erected by Constantine in 325.
The basilica was entirely burnt down in 532. Justinian 1st rebuilt it, and it is to him that the edifice owes its current form. Justinian wanted it to be the most durable and most magnificent monument of all eras; the whole Empire was stripped bare to decorate it.
The Grand Bazaar of Constantinople is a curious thing. This inextricable labyrinth forms, with its streets, alleys, passages, and crossroads, a town within the town itself.
Each street is assigned a specialty. The Grand Bazaar closes every evening before sunset and doesn’t open until nine o’clock in the morning.
On Fridays, the Turkish boutiques are closed, and on Saturdays it’s the Jews’ turn. On Sundays, the same goes for the Christians.
We visited the cistern Asparis; it rests upon 64 columns and was constructed under Leo the Great.
Now, my first daughter, my poppet, my diamond, let’s talk things over a bit. I can see, by rereading your last letter, that you couldn’t be managing better while I’m not there. Continue in this way and you’ll please me. Poor poppet, why can’t I have you near me, throughout my lovely trip!…
Tell my “little Paulin” [Sr. Agnès, Pauline Martin] that I often think of her as well and I thank God for having given her such a lofty vocation. Thank her for her lovely letter for me and don’t forget to present my humble respects to Madame Marie de Gonzague [the prioress].
We hope to be in Athens on Sunday and from there we shall go to Naples. I’m counting on going to fetch news from all of you at the post office.
Give a tight hug to Léonie, Céline, my Queen [Thérèse], and my beautiful little Pearl [Pauline] for me. Alas! It is impossible through her grilles. Lastly, give lots of good wishes to your uncle and aunt [Isidore Guérin and his wife Céline], as well as to Jeanne and Marie [cousins, the daughters of Isidore and Céline]. A little pat on the head for Tom, the good faithful dog. Is he still pining after me?
Your father who loves you.
P.-S. You did well to give them pears; give, always give and make people happy.
Saint Louis Martin
Letter to Marie Martin
Sent from Constantinople, 16 September 1885