Friday, August 28, 2009

Place with a name

I can safely predict that the chances of my name being given to a village square in France are slim, to say the least. And I might add that this improbability has never discouraged me unduly, or prevented me from sleeping soundly through the night. But I think the next best thing to having your name attached to a village square is to propose the name of somebody whom you admire... and then to find that your proposal has been accepted.

The individual in question was a 19th-century priest, the historian Jean-Louis-Alexis Fillet [1840-1902], commonly referred to as Abbé Fillet. He was the author of several scholarly monographs (published in Valence) on townships and villages in our Royans district, including:

Religious History of Pont-en-Royans

Religious History of Saint Laurent-en-Royans

Historical Notes on the Parish of Choranche

Historical Notes on the Parish of Sainte Eulalie-en-Royans

Aware that Abbé Fillet was born in the nearby village of Saint Laurent-en-Royans, I suggested to the municipal authorities that their illustrious native son should be honored in the village. The place they chose is modest, like almost everything in this village.

It's a tiny square behind this monumental gate, located between the church and the former presbytery (seen on the right).

Abbé Fillet paid such microscopic attention to names, events, dates and terms in Old French and Latin that he would have surely been dismayed to find that the municipal authorities of his native village have left a letter out of his surname. But it's better than nothing. And I'm happy to think that the abbé has at last come home, in a way, to his beloved Royans.

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