A historic day

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End May 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Etape Hotel

Flag of France  , Midi-Pyrénées,
Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today I slept in which was very much needed. I worked at the hotel until noon when I had to vacate the room. After loading the car I drove to the old city of Carcassonne for another walk around and for lunch in a small restaurant just off the square. There was a small courtyard in the back where I was able to get a table in the spring sun. It sunny and pleasant and quiet, which is not always usual in Carcassonne during school vacations!

After an espresso to round out lunch, I drove to the village of Saissac where there is a vacation colony we have considered as a festival site. The conference room at the center was small for us at the time, so we haven't used it, but it might serve again in the future, so since I had some time, I wanted to get to know the village itself a bit better. Saissac is known for several things, among which are the ruins of the medieval castle toward the center of town. The village is mentioned historically as far back as the 900s. It was quickly surrendered during the Albigensian crusade in the early 1200s, in which the King of France considerably increased his holdings in land and power to the detriment of the nobles and the culture of the Languedoc region.

At the time there were two fairly distinct French languages and cultures: the langue d’oïl in the north and the langue d’oc in the south (the language of oiel and the language of oc; oïl and oc being the words for yes in the two languages.) The culture of language and music was more developed in the south at the time, but the Albigensian crusade changed that, brought the south under northern, royal domination, and confirmed that the langue d’oïl would dominate. And oïl eventually evolved into oui, the present French word for yes.  A flourishing culture subdued, another dominates to this day 800 years later, all due to the crusade of one group of professing Christians to subjugate another ("convert or die" was the order of the day – those who refused to convert or recant were burned alive).

Another historical event for which Saissac is famous was the finding of a hidden treasure of coins in 1972. Two thousand silver denarii dating from the end of the 13th century were found when an earth moving machine dislodged the clay pot in which the money had been buried.

I still had some time after my exploration of Saissac, so I drove to Saint-Papoul not far away and toured the Benedictine abbey. It was founded in the 700s and became quite an important religious center. The cloister is quite photogenic, but overall it is a quick visit. I always enjoy these kinds of encounters with the past; walking through buildings constructed well over a millennium ago.

Then it was time to visit the Eugénies once again. David and I continued our discussions, and it became clear that he understood the commitment and had decided to be baptized. We all four drove in separate cars to the lake of Saint-Ferréol some distance. The sun sank toward the horizon David and I walked out into the lake as his wife and daughter watched. The water was cold, but that didn’t impede this most meaningful of ceremonies. After we dried off and changed into dry clothes we talked for a while in the cool calm of nature about what had just happened and what it meant for the future.

I regretted that I couldn’t stay longer, but I had to drive on to Toulouse for a short night before my early flight back to Paris in the morning. So we parted by the lake, and looked forward to the next time we’d be able to fellowship in person. I drove on narrow roads through the rolling hills of the Languedoc region, passing new-shorn flocks of sheep in greening fields, as the twilight faded to darkness. It has a been a historic day in more ways than one.
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hervedubois on

Hi Mr. Meeker,
We are very glad to hear about the baptism of David. And I guess there will a lot of smiles and happiness in the French Carribean as well with the Eugenie family. I appreciates your comments about the Albigensians and think about the books that we had in Cincinnati about them and the Waldensians. Quite a loss but I do hope that some of them will be published as eBooks in the future. I understand your interest for historic immersion, this is the kind of experience fascinates me. How were people living and dealing? Thanks for sharing those moments.

Lonnie Gjeesvold on

Great blog and thank you for keeping up. Makes me want to see France some of the places that you have been visiting. Anyway thank you for the information and historical settings that you present. Have safe trip back home.


Mr. Meeker, it is really refreshing to read about your trip...a learning experience for me even in a vicarious way, I feel that I'm there too in the places you've just visited. And it is good to know that we have brethrens there too...God calls whom He wants to call...Have a good trip back to Paris!

W and SFaith on

Joel, It's been a pleasure to go along with you on this trip. By the time we caught up with your blog you were halfway thru. It's always exciting and there were many joyful occasions. You make us feel like we're right there with you and we enjoy meeting our brethren in those areas you visit. What a great way to spend the spring holy days. May God be with you and your family always and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

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