CHAPTER XV. NIMES.
Moreover, in the Nimes museum are some bronze circular ornaments, found in 1883 in the caves of S. Vallon in Ardeche, representing the wheel. On the triumphal arch of Orange are Gaulish warriors with horned helmets, and wheels as crests between the horns. The wheel, as symbol of the sun, was very general everywhere, in the east as well as the west, among the Germans as well as among the Gauls, but among the latter it assumed a very special importance, and it is due to this fact that in the French cathedrals the west window is a wheel window. At Basle there is a round window in the minster with figures climbing and falling on the spokes, and Fortune sits in the midst. It is a wheel of Fortune. It is the same at Beauvais, at Amiens, and elsewhere. At Chartres is a representation in stained glass of the Transfiguration; and Christ is exhibited in glory in the midst of an eight-spoked wheel. A curious statue at Luxeuil, now lost, represented a rider protecting a lady whilst his horse tramples on a prostrate foe; his raised hand over the woman is thrust through a six-rayed wheel. On the Meuse a similar peculiarity has been noticed in a fragment of a sculptured figure, it is a hand holding a four-spoked wheel. In the Museum Kircherianum at Rome are bronze six-rayed wheels, the spokes zigzagged like lightnings, found at Forli, others at Modena. All these were symbols of the sun. Now when Constantine professed to have seen his vision, which was in all probability a mock-sun, he thought that the rays he saw formed the Greek initials of Christ, and he therefore ordered these initials, forming a six-rayed wheel, to be set up on the standards of his soldiers. The only difference between his "Labarum" and the symbol of the Gaulish sun-god was that his upper spoke was looped to form the letter P. No doubt whatever, that his Keltic soldiers hailed the new standard as that of their national god, and that when they marched against Maxentius and met him at Saxa Rubra, eight miles from Rome, they thought that they, as Gauls, were marching to a second capture of the capital of the world, under the protection of their national god.
Among men of note that have been associated with Nimes is Flechier, born at Pernes in Vaucluse in 1632, who became Bishop of Nimes in 1687. He was the son of a tallow-chandler. From his eloquence he was much regarded as a preacher, but unfortunately his discourses contain very little except well-rounded sentences of well-chosen words. He was a favourite of Louis XIV., who respected his integrity and piety. One day a haughty aristocratic prelate about the Court had the bad taste to sneer at him for his origin. "Avec votre maniere de penser," replied Flechier calmly, "je crois que si vous etiez ne ce que je suis, vous n'eussiez fait, toute votre vie - que de chandelles."