Pilgrimage to Bayonne
Sunday, 20th October, 8 am, the older confreres of the EHPAD of Billère should have barely started their day and yet, while it was still dark, a good twenty of them rushed into a bus that would take them to the very origins of our foundation, the birthplace of Charles Martial Allemand Lavigerie. It was there that he was born, there that he grew up, there that he was baptized, then educated, before leaving, at the age of 17, for Paris to complete the minor and major seminary.
Patrick Bataille, the Delegate Provincial of France, and his assistant, Bernard Lefebvre, had come from Paris especially to celebrate this penultimate French event of the Jubilee Year. The closing Mass will be held later this year around the community of Toulouse.
They are the most valid of our EHPAD confreres who had registered. Yet the day would not have been possible without the support of about twenty HBB volunteers (Basque-Béarnaise Hospitality) who helped them all day long to get on and off the bus and to get around during the various stops of the pilgrimage.
First stop, Bayonne Cathedral. The local bishop, Father-Bishop Marc Aillet, was waiting for us to celebrate World Mission Day 2019. During his homily, the Father-Bishop first greeted the evangelization effort of the Missionaries of Africa, men and women who dedicated their lives to evangelizing what he calls the Continent of Hope, because it is in Africa that the youth of the world are found and that the Church knows the greatest expansion. He then reminded us that every baptized person must take ownership of Christ’s mandate and radiate faith wherever he/she is. And with the help of the ubiquitous social media, Mission Ad Gentes is here, at our doorstep! His homily was punctuated by a key sentence from today’s Gospel: “When the son of man comes, will he find faith in hearts? »
The Mass was followed by an aperitif in the beautiful cloister of the cathedral and a meal at the diocesan centre. After lunch, visit to the statue of Lavigerie, erected in 1909 on the “Place du Réduit”, to honour this local child who had become extremely popular.
On the other side of the bridge over the Ardour, stop at the Church of the Holy Spirit where the cardinal was baptized on the 5th of November 1825, only 5 days after his birth. The priest in charge of the church was waiting for us to tell us the story of this small Gothic-style church, which was elevated to the rank of a collegiate church by Louis XI at the end of the 15th century. After praying Vespers, we gathered around the baptistery.
We got back in the bus that took us to the Saint-Etienne cemetery where we saw the family vault of the Lavigerie family, and especially the tomb of the Cardinal’s parents, restored in 1955.
The last resort, the neighbourhood of the “Domaine de Huire”, of which a piece of the Cardinal’s birthplace still exists. It is impressive to step on the ground that the Cardinal stepped on in his tender years. It was then time to get back on the road to Billère where we arrived shortly after 7pm. It was a very beautiful day blessed by God who, in fact, spoiled us with intermittent rains.
Philippe Docq, M.Afr.
You will find below an interactive map with the different places we visited. Then some pictures of the day. And after the photos, an article published in 1992 in Nuntiuncula (Belgium Sector) on the history of Cardinal Lavigerie’s childhood.
(Appendix to “Nuntiuncula” nr 495, September 1992)
On the occasion of the centenary of the Cardinal’s death, many memories were evoked.
In general, we talked, as it should have been, about the size of his enterprises and his multifaceted activity. However, it may also be appropriate to mention for a moment his family and his Youth.
Indeed, it is quite difficult for us to picture our Founder at home or at school…
This picture depicts Cardinal Lavigerie’s birthplace and underneath it reads this text: « This house is part of the “Domaine de Huire”, near Bayonne, and bears its name. »
The original of this drawing no longer exists, but this is a photo taken on the original. This drawing was probably in this house in Huire, when it was occupied and destroyed during the 1940-1945 war. This may have been the work of Mr Julien, the Cardinal’s uncle by his marriage on 29 October 1832 to Louise Latrilhe, his mother’s sister. He was a quite famous painter and engraver in the 19th century.
The main house in the middle was inhabited by Mr Latrilhe, the Cardinal’s maternal grandfather. In 1947, the White Sisters bought this house, which had undergone many modifications between 1832 and 1947… It was enlarged several times to house a community of more than 50 sisters, but the old part has not changed much on the outside. The Cardinal’s parents stayed in the house with the tower on the right.
According to tradition Charles Lavigerie was born in the room upstairs in the tower. It is not known what happened to this house between 1834 and 1923, when it was the coachman’s residence.
She no longer belongs to the White Sisters anymore.
Huire is located in the commune of St Esprit, in the St Bernard district. In the Cardinal’s time, this locality was part (since the Revolution) of the department of the Landes and the diocese of Dax. It was only attached to the diocese of Bayonne and the department of the Pyrénées Atlantiques in 1857.
The Huire estate, in one piece, included about 22 hectares of farmland and about 3 hectares of rush land for grazing. It was composed of:
- A main house, called “Grand Huire”, with its enclosure, two large gardens (vegetable and fruit garden), a vine in full production, an orchard and a meadow. In addition, there were three barns, a wine press, a stable, a shed and a cattle yard.
- A small winegrower’s house.
- Two tenant farms: “Petit Huire” and “Broc” each with a house, a barn, a cattle yard and a garden.
- Another mansion, with grove and adjoining garden (occupied by the Lavigerie family).
The Cardinal’s maternal grandfather bought the Huire Estate from Mr Bisconty, Director of the Navy’s Food Department, on the 14th of May 1813. But it seems that he did not settle in Huire with his family (six girls and a boy) until 1819 or 1820. Shortly after the purchase of the property, English troops (allied to the Spanish at war with France) had invested Bayonne. On the 14th April 1814, the French defenders of the citadel (above Huire) made an attack and fought in Huire, Broc, Chanda, the glass factory of St Bernard and the convent of St Bernard.
A corvette and nine French gunboats bombed Huire, Chanda and the convent of St Bernard.
It was in the “Maison Latrilhe” that a suspension of arms between the belligerents was signed on the 27 April 1814. A new convention lifted the blockade of Bayonne on the 5th of May 1814 (following the fall of the Empire and the abdication of Napoleon).
Pierre Latrilhe (I), born in 1719 in Vialer (30km N.E. from Pau) married Marie Brascon (or Brascoun) in Pau on the 6th May 1761. He was a “master foundryman” at the “Monnaie de Bayonne” (Bayonne Treasury) in 1767. In 1771 he was called “Sieur” Pierre Latrilhe. The Treasury played a considerable role under the Ancien Régime, as few cities had the privilege of coining coins. Bayonne had had this right for four centuries. The employees of the Treasury formed a special category among Bayonne’s craftsmen and bourgeois. Peter I died on February 20, 1800.
The first child of the Latrilhe-Brascon family, born in 1764, was also named Pierre. To distinguish him from his father and two of his brothers who bore the same first name, he is referred to as Peter II. This Latrilhe-Brascon home had ten known children: eight boys (five of whom lived only a few days or months) and two girls. One of them, Catherine Louise, now Mrs. Le Mosquet, played a major role in the Latrilhe family and played an important role during Charles Lavigerie’s childhood and youth for his literary and cultural training.
Peter II married Rose Agnes Fourtricot on September 9, 1798. Rose Agnès Fourtricot was only 19 years old at the time, while her husband was 34. Like his father, he worked at the Bayonne Treasury. At the time of his marriage, he was “Director of Works” and at the time of the birth of his first child, “Essayeur”, i. e. responsible for the “titre” of the coins. He had to check the exact weight of the precious metal of each coin minted at the Bayonne Treasury and mark it with the Latrilhe stamp. In 1828, Peter II became Director of the Treasury This important position imposed heavy costs on him: the purchase of precious metals, the installation of workshops, equipment, etc. He had to borrow. However, business was very bad in France in 1830. Pierre Latrilhe could not repay his creditors. The Domaine de Huire, where he lived, was seized and put up for sale by public tender in 1832.
To get out of this difficult situation, Peter Latrilhe II exchanged Huire for the house of Biscardi (a little higher on the same hill) belonging to Mr. Isaac Léon, a wealthy Jew from the commune of St Esprit. As the properties were of very unequal value, Mr Léon paid a balance (a sum of money that compensates for the unequal value during an exchange) of 48,000 francs. This allowed Pierre Latrilhe to repay his creditors.
Martial (or Marthial) Allemand Lavigerie, originally from Angoulême, came to live in Bayonne around 1802 as Receiver of the National Lottery. At the same time, at the beginning of the century, at least three of his brothers and sisters (from a family of thirteen children) also moved to Bayonne.
Martial had married Louise Vaslin. Divorced in 1796, he remarried on 17 June 1801 to Marie-Louise Raymond de Saint Germain, born in St Domingue in January 1776. The household moved to Bayonne probably shortly after their marriage.
Martial Allemand Lavigerie has always remained Receiver of the “National”, “Imperial” and “Royal” Lottery. His duties had certainly put him in touch with important people in the Bayonese financial community. In 1807, Martial became a member of “La Zélée”, the lodge of the Freemasons of Bayonne, and he held several services there. His young wife died in I8I3, one month after the birth of their fifth child.
Léon Philippe Allemand Lavigerie (who will be the Cardinal’s father) was Martial’s first son. He did not live in Bayonne, but in Angoulême with his mother, Louise Vaslin. However, in I8I7, he began his career in customs at the port of Bayonne. He was 22 years old. Apart from two months in Vannes in 1820, all his posts were in or near Bayonne: Ustaritz, Urdos, Aînhoa, Bordeau… He rose through the ranks: from “supernumerary” in 1817 to “Receiver” to Royal Customs Declarations in 1824. It was then that he married, on November 3, 1824, Hermine Louise Latrilhe, who lived in Huire.
The main building of the Huire Estate had only one floor and, despite a few large rooms, it was cramped now that the family was expanding. The young Lavigerie-Latrilhe household went to live in the annex house on the same property. It was here that the first three children of the household were born: Charles (1825), Pierre Félix (1828) and Louise (Mme Kienner) (1832). People say that the whole family lived together at the “Grand Huire”, even though the young Lavigerie household lived in the neighbouring building. Everyone gathered for meals at the “Grand Huire”.
When the Latrilhe family was forced to leave the Domaine de Huire in 1832, the Lavigerie family moved to the Villa Beaulieu in 1832 or 1833, which they had built in 1832, also in the St Etienne district. From there Charles and his brothers went daily to St Leon’s College near Bayonne Cathedral.