Abbé Saunière's Catechism Class 1886

Love of ones birthplace, love of one's country

If somebody asked you, my children, which is the land you love the most, you would certainly reply "it's the village where I was born, it's the place I live in with my family". They would say to you in vain "But this other village is nicer, this land is more fertile and better situated". You wouldn't insist any less on preferring to stay in the most attractive place, the one that is called with justification, using a charming and picturesque phrase, the cradle of one's birth.

The cradle, yes, for it is there that we came into the world, where we first received the care of our mother, so tender and affectionate, where we saw her first smiles and enjoyed her first caresses, where we learned to speak, to walk, to live, where we admired the beauties of creation with a still innocent, but delightful eye. It was there, all around us, a combination of elements and joys, of great or little pleasures, which we shall never find again, since they belong to and are bound directly to the cradle.

So that's the birthplace, what you love the most is the village of your birth, the commune you love the most is the one your village is part of, and consequently the canton that you love the most is the one to which your commune belongs. From the canton your preference extends to the arrondissement, from the arrondissement to the department. Look, there is an increasing sequence of affection for the place of birth, the hamlet or the village, the commune, the canton, the arrondisement, the department. It is truly the "love of the native patch".

People have made fun of, having laughed at, this "love of the native patch". They are wrong. No feeling is more natural than that. From infancy our eyes and our heart became familiar with a horizon, with a landscape, this horizon and this landscape never leave either our heart or our eyes. How many times and with what satisfaction the schoolboy, the soldier, the traveller, see in their imagination their father's house, their family home! Far from home, they find this daydream an encouragement and a consolation.

Of whom and of what does the mortally wounded soldier think; or the man whoever he is, who is going to die on foreign soil? In a fleeting vision, and they say, an extremely powerful one, they embrace their parents, and see again the places of their early years. All comes back before their eyes, in a supreme moment, the family and the birthplace. The family is the moral and living homeland; the birthplace is the inanimate and material homeland, but one to which however we attach our strongest instincts.

Therefore love your cradle, my children, especially because it is attractive. There is not a canton in our dear Aude which does not have its charms, its own history, its changes old or new, witness to a magnificent past. Love your Department, one of the most admirable because of the beauty of its sky and its places, the treasures of the soil and the spirit.

And be sure that by loving in that way, you also love France. Loving the small land of your birth, you love the larger, and it is time to say you do not distinguish one from the other, you combine them in a single unity.

If someone pretended to you that Brittany was foreign, because it is two hundred leagues from here, that Normandy and Touraine have nothing in common with you, because these two provinces are further north than the Aude, wouldn't you protest against this shameless talk? If someone said to you that Joan of Arc does not belong to you because she came from Lorraine, that you are not to be proud of Corneille, because he was from Normandy, of Jean Bart who came from Dunkirk, of Napoleon, the Corsican, wouldn't you find that they had taken from you a whole sphere of glory that is really yours?

Whether God had us born in the north or the south, east or west, France is still our common heritage. But unlike some others, France will never split up, it is whole in each one of us.

Abbé B Saunière

Taken from Francois Grassaud, L’Abbé Saunière de 1885 á 1909, Curé de Rennes-le-Château (Realisation Fenouille des Impression; 2000)