Rizal in Paris

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Paris to Berlin, 1885-87
Rizal went to Paris and Germany to specialize in ophthalmology. He chose this branch because he wanted to cure his mother’s eyes. He served as assistant to the famous oculists of Europe. He also continued his travels and observations of European life and customs in Paris, Heidelberg, Leipzig and Berlin. In Berlin, capital of the unified Germany, he met and befriended several top scientists, Dr. Feodor Jagor, Dr. Adolph B. Meyer, Dr. Hans Meyer, and Dr. Rudolph Virchow. His merits as a scientist were recognized by the eminent scientist of Europe.

IN GAY PARIS (1885-1886)
Rizal then was 24 years old and already a physician, decided to go to Paris in order to acquire more knowledge in ophthalmology. On his way to Paris, he stopped at Barcelona to visit his friend, Maximo Viola, a medical student and a member of a rich family of San Miguel, Bulacan. He stayed for a week, during which time he befriended Senor Eusebio Corominas, editor of the newspaper La Publicidad and made a crayon sketch of Don Miguel Morayta, owner of La Publicidad and a statesman. He gave editor Corominas an article on the Carolines Question for publication. On October, 1885, Rizal was living in Paris, where he sojourned for about four months. He worked as an assistant to Dr. Louis de Weckert, leading French ophthalmologist. Outside his working days at Dr. Weckert’s clinic, he relaxed visiting the home of Pardo de Taveras and the studio of his friend, Juan Luna. At the studio of Luna, Rizal spent many happy hours. He discussed with Luna, the great master of the brush, various problems on art and improved his own painting technique. He helped Luna by posing as model in several paintings. In Luna’s canvas “The Death of Cleopatra”, Rizal posed as an Egyptian priest. In another of Luna’s great paintings, “the blood compact”, Rizal posed as Sikatuna, with Dr. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera taking the role of Legaspi.

In the art studio of Juan Luna in Paris
“Blood compact” by Juan Luna

“The Death of Cleopatra”Dr. Louis de Weckert

AT HEIDELBERG
Rizal left Paris on February 1, 1886, after acquiring enough experience in the clinic of Dr. Weckert. He was set to go to Germany. He visited Strasbourg and other German towns. On February 3, 1886, he arrived in Heidelberg, a historic city in Germany famous for its old university and romantic surroundings. He lived in a boarding house with some German law students. The German students found out that Rizal was a good chess player and made him a member of the Chess Player’s Club. After a few days, he was transferred to a boarding house which was near University of Heidelberg. He worked at the University Eye Hospital under the direction of Dr. Otto Becker and attended the lectures of Doctor Becker and Prof. Wilhelm Kuehne at the university. At weekends he visited the scenic spots around Heidelberg which includes the Heidelberg Castle, the romantic Neckar Rivera, the theater, and the old churches. Rizal noticed that the German Catholics and the Protestants practiced ecumenism wherein they live together in harmony and cordiality. On April 22, 1886, spring on Heidelberg, he wrote a poem to the beautiful blooming flowers at the Neckar River. Among those was his favorite flower—the forget-me-not.

To the Flowers of Heidelberg by Jose Rizal

Go to my country, go, O foreign flowers,
sown by the traveler along the road,
and under that blue heaven
that watches over my loved ones,
recount the devotion
the pilgrim nurses for his native sod!
Go and say say that when dawn
opened your chalices for the first time
beside the icy Neckar,
you saw him silent beside you,
thinking of her constant vernal clime.
Say that when dawn
which steals your aroma
was whispering playful love songs to your young
sweet petals, he, too, murmured
canticles of love in his native tongue;
that in the morning when the sun first traces
the topmost peak of Koenigssthul in gold
and with a...
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