[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Saint Clair's fête
In the evening of 16 July, together with other members of this list I once attended the fête and fue (fire) of Saint Clair. It is difficult to explain the emotions of seeing the bones of Clair and his disciple Saint Cynin carried thought the ancient streets and venals of the village of Saint Clair-sur Epte. The village is not in Normandy. A sign at the edge of the village states Ici est où Normandie a commencé. (Here is where Normandy began). After a Roman Catholic Mass, in a church dating from the 11th Century, although I must admit that additions were made in the 14th century, one member from our list family helped carry the casket of the Saint's bones. It is about a kilometre to the holy well that is said to flow from the blood of the Saint's severed head. During a torch lit procession a hymn was sung
Fils de l'Angleterre
Son of England
de l'Île des Saints
of the Holy Island
un jeune homme austère
a young austere man
A de grands desseins
of great Intention
The refrain repeatedly sung after each of the 13 verses
(Saint-Clair, Saint Clair martyr admirable)
Saint Clair an admirable martyr
Saint Clair we are thankful of your help.
A fresh birch tree, circled by faggots of by fir branches towered 10 metres in the air. A metal ring holding a floral tribute to the Saint was hung from the about three froths of the way up the tree. The fir branches were lit. The caskets containing the bones were slowly circled three times. The fire blazed. The refrain rang out. A small fair amused the children.
As the dying embers slowly faded all that was left was the memory, hidden in the caverns of the mind, of the friendship extended in the small town and the love the French peasants hold for the progenitor of our name. We are here for only the flicking of a eye, each man is allotted only so many heartbeats. Our name lives, well beyond day of our lives in the l'Île de France as thousands of men and women, for over a thousand years have called our name in soft evening air.