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Ostensions limousines (Religious festival, France)

Part 2

Last modified: 2012-04-09 by ivan sache
Keywords: limousin | ostensions | saint-leonard-de-noblat | fetters | fleurs-de-lis: 3 (yellow) | rochechouart | dorat (le) | blanzac | chaptelat | eymoutiers | charroux |
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Ostensions in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat

[Ostensions flag]

Flag of the Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat ostensions - Image by Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

The town of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat (4,650 inhabitants), located 20 km east of Limoges, the birth place of the chemist Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac (1778-1850) and the living place of the autodidact artist Sanfourche (1929-2010) and of the cyclist Raymond Poulidor (b. 1936), developed around the tomb of the hermit Leonard, a famous place of pilgrimage located on the Way of St. James.
According to the chronicle, Leonard (465-511), the godchild of King Clovis and a disciple of St. Remigius, settled in Limousin to honor St. Martial and to help the poor. A queen of Aquitaine visiting Limousin could not give birth to her child until Leonard asked God's intercession, saving both the child and the mother. Leonard refused all kinds of present from the king, except a piece of woody land "that his donkey could limit within 24 hours". In his domain of Noblac (recalling its "noble", royal origin), Leonard welcomed the liberated prisoners, who were offered pieces of land to be cleared. Accordingly, Leonard is venerated all over Europe as the patron saint of prisoners and of pregnant women. The saint's relics, placed in a wrought iron cage kept in the collegiate church (11th-13th centuries), were venerated by famous people celebrating their liberation, such as Bohemond I of Antioch (1104), Pons of Léras (1130, a repented rascal who subsequently founded the abbey of Sylvanès), Richard Lionheart (1193), and the Prince of Condé (1619, with specific ostensions). King of France Charles VII and Dolphin Louis (later, Louis XI) visited the sanctuary in 1438, asking to the saint the restoration of peace and the end of the war against the English.

The Saint-Léonard ostensions (website), organized by the Confrérie de Saint-Léonard, founded in 1358, are joined by invited delegations (15 in 2002; 25 in 2009) from several French and European parishes named for St. Leonard.
The Saint-Léonard ostensions flag ( photos, video) is vertically divided blue-white- red with the municipal coat of arms, surmounted by a golden mural crown, in the middle. Blue and red are the colors of the Confrérie de Saint-Léonard.

The arms of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat are "Azure two fetters conjoined in fess argent between three fleurs-de-lis or". The fetters are modeled on the Verrou (lit., the Lock), placed on the wall of St. Leonard's funereal recess in the southern transept of the collegiate church (photos). In the past, women searching a husband or expecting a child used to touch the Lock, originally an ex-voto offered by a released prisoner, to be answered.

Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

Ostensions in Rochechouart

[Ostensions flag]

Flag of the Rochehouart ostensions - Image by Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

The town of Rochechouart (3,808 inhabitants), located 40 km west of Limoges in the Rochechouart astrobleme (a meteoritic impact crater, c. 21 km in diameter), is the cradle of the family of Rochechouart, the oldest noble lineage in France after the Capetians, dating back to Aimery I, made Viscount of Rochechouart in 980.
The Rochechouart ostension" celebrate St. Julian of Brioude, made patron saint of the parish of Rochechouart when erected in 1762. St. Julian of Brioude was a Roman soldier converted to the Christian religion and martyred in 304, during the Diocletian persecution, near Brioude (Auvergne); like many earlier saints, his life was first documented by St. Gregory of Tours in his De gloria martyrum (c. 580) and popularized by Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend (1275).

The Rochechouart ostensions flag (photos, video) is horizontally divided white-red-white-red-white-red.
The flag is derived from the municipal arms, "Barry wavy of six argent and gules", which are indeed the arms of the Viscounts of Rochechouart, reflecting the (modest) motto of the family, Avant que la mer fut au monde Rochechouart portait les ondes (Before the sea came upon the earth, Rochechouart bore waves).

Ivan Sache, 2 November 2011

Ostensions in Le Dorat

[Ostensions flag]         [Ostensions flag]

Flags of the Le Dorat ostensions - Image by Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

Le Dorat (1,903 inhabitants), located 15 km north of Bellac, is the capital of Lower-Marche. The town developed around a chapter founded at the end of the 10th century by Count of Marche Boso the Old. The St. Peter collegiate church, one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in Limousin, is surmounted by an angel made of gilded copper (13th century), once known as Lou dora (The Gilded) and the base of a popular etymology for the name of the place.

The ostensions dorachonnes, celebrating the local saints Israel (a learned canon, 950-1014) and his disciple, St. Theobald (a deacon, 990-1070), were organized for the first time in 1659. That year, the Confrérie de Saint Israël et Saint Théobald, founded in 1494, was allowed to dig out the saints' relics from the church crypt and to transfer them into two gilded wood reliquaries placed in the upper church. The first ostensions seem to have been escorted by a military guard, a specific tradition that has been preserved until now with a Honor Guard made of musketeers, sappers and infantrymen.
Moreover, each of the 44 parishes invited to the procession sends its own guard, which is ritually asked at the town's gate the reason of its entrance etc.; accordingly, the processions look like the Belgian folkloric marches rather than the "usual" ostensions limousines.
The flag ceremonial also differs from the other "ostensions"; once blessed during the inauguration solemn mass (in 2009, on 15 March), the flag, offered by the municipal administration, is not immediately hoisted but presented for a week (16-21 March) to the inhabitants of Le Dorat, and eventually hoisted to the bell tower (21 March).

The Le Dorat ostensions flag is red and green, most probably the colors of the Confrérie de Saint Israël et Saint Théobald, but I have not been able to identify it undoubtedly among the many red and green flags hoisted in the town during the festival (video, video). Most flags are vertical forked banners, vertically divided red-green, but there are also rectangular flags, horizontally divided red-green.

Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

Blanzac guard

[Ostensions flag]

Flag of the Blanzac guard - Image by Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

The guard from Blanzac uses a flag horizontally divided yellow-blue (photo).

Ivan Sache, 2 November 2011

Ostensions in Chaptelat

[Ostensions flag]         [Ostensions flag]         [Ostensions flag]

Flags of the Chaptelat ostensions - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 November 2011

The village of Chaptelat (1,558 inhabitants) located 10 km north of Limoges, is the birth place of St. Eligius (in French, Éloi; c. 558-659).
Most of Eligius' life is known via his Vita (biography) written in the 6th century by his friend St. Audouin (in French, Ouen, 609-660), Bishop of Rouen. A talented goldsmith, Eligius made a golden throne decorated with jewels for King of Neustria Chlothar II, who appointed him Controller of Mines and Ore, Master Minter and Minister of the Finances of the kingdom. Treasurer of King Dagobert I, Eligius was elected Bishop of Noyon in 641, with jurisdiction over Picardy and Flanders, and evangelized the Low Countries. Eligius is the patron saint of goldsmiths and all kinds of metal workers.
Eligius is the hero of the popular song Le bon roi Dagobert (Good King Dagobert), probably written to mock King Louis XVI.

The Chaptelat ostensions (website) were founded in 1845 by Pierre-Célestin Rousseau, the parish priest, who obtained in 1883 relics of the saint from the chapter of Noyon. At the time, the ostensions were organized every year on 25 June, the St. Eligius' (summer) day, celebrating the transportation of the saint's relics to Noyon in 1157.
Nearly extinct in the beginning of the 20th century, the ostenstions were refounded by parish priest Beldoi, who asked in 1952 the bishop of Limoges to register Chaptelat on the ostensions official list, so that the first modern ostensions were organized in Chaptelat in 1953.
The Chaptelat ostensions are organized by the Confrérie de Saint Éloi en Limousin, inviting several other St. Eligius brotherhoods from France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain. The reliquary bust of Chaptelat was made of painted and gilded wood in the 18th century.

The Chaptelat ostensions flag (video) is square, divided blue-yellow by the ascending diagonal. Vertical, forked flags, vertically divided blue-yellow-blue, are placed along the outer walls of the church.
A photo of the 2002 Chaptelat ostensions shows a banner vertically divided yellow-blue.

Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

Ostensions in Eymoutiers

Eymoutiers (2,068 inhabitants), located 50 km south-east of Limoges, is said to have been founded in the 6th century by St. Psalmet, an Irish disciple of St. Brendan. Famous for his miracles and his knowledge of the psalms - therefore his name - Psalmet retired in an isolated forest, where, like many other saints, he built an hermitage with the help of the wolf who had eaten his donkey. After his death (c. 630), a monastery (in ancient French, moutier) developed around his tomb.
In the 18th century, Eymoutiers was the capital of tannery in Limousin. The town is the birth place of the painter Paul Rebeyrolle (1926-2005).

The 2009 ostensions in Eymoutiers were the first celebrated since the "Peace ostensions" celebrated, unfortunately to no avail, in 1939.
The Eymoutiers ostensions flag (photo) is a forked banner, vertically divided red-white with a (kind of) white "H" in the red stripe and a red cross in the white stripe.
The flag is derived from the banner of the Confrérie Saint-Psalmet, ending in a triangle and charged with an image of the saint and the writing "SAINT / PSALMET" / "EYMOUTIERS" in golden letters.
During the festival, the town was decorated with several red and white flags, of different shapes and color arrangement.

Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

Ostensions in Charroux

Charroux (1,185 inhabitants), located 50 km south of Poitiers, is one of the few ostensions towns not located in the department of Haute- Vienne - and even not in Region Limousin, although the town might have historically belonged to Limousin. The first capital of Lower-Marche (superseded in 1561 by Le Dorat), Charroux, located on the Way of St. James, developed around the Saint-Sauveur abbey that kept 70 relics, including a piece of the True Cross, and organized four councils.
On 9 August 1856, the mason Jalladeau found a couple of relics when demolishing an old wall. Three years later, His Grace Pie, Bishop of Poitiers, proclaimed ostensions to be organized every seven years from 1862 onwards.

There is no information on the Charroux ostensions flag.

Ivan Sache, 3 November 2011

Part 3