Monday 3 August 2015

Chavagnes College and a bit of sunshine

I spent last week at Chavagnes International College, the renowned English boarding school for boys in the heart of the Vendee in France.  The boys are on holiday at this time of year but other groups use the college, including one group with a Religious Brother who had no English at all (and my french is rather limited). When it came to saying Mass, this was no problem as he served for me in the Traditional Form, so the universal language of the Church and Her ancient Rite enabled us to pray together with no difficulties.

The College puts the faith and the Mass at the heart of all that it does, celebrated in term time for the boys daily, either in OF Latin or in the Traditional Form (and once a week in English).

The Chapel is rather grand (the whole place was built in the 19th century as a junior seminary). Sadly, the altar was messed around with in the years after Vatican II with the usual misunderstanding of what the Council was asking.  However, there are plans to restore it.

Without the reredos the altar gives the appearance of being too squat. Fortunately some of the original reredos is still in existence and could be re-instated.


This little film collage gives an impression of college life
together with a sample of the choir's singing.

One of the windows in the parish church across the road from the College depicts its time as a junior seminary together with Venerable Louis-Marie Baudouin, founder of the seminary and much besides.

Nearby in La Rabatelière there is an extraordinary shrine built in 1887 in honour of Our lady of La Salette. It was built by the local parish priest, who must have been a man of some energy and persuasion, as it is quite a place!

In this chapel, there is a large wooden cross, carved from the wood of a tree in the park of the nearby castle. Weighing 500 kilos, it was taken to Jerusalem. On its return from the Holy Land on September 28, 1893, the entire population of Rabatelière, led by the parish priest and the mayor, went to L'Herbergement to the train station and carried it barefoot  in procession for 13 km. At the foot of the Cross are statues of Faith and Vendée martyrdom.

Also nearby is the beautiful town of Clisson - with churches, castle... and sunshine, 
something not much in evidence in England this summer!

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