July 2, 2022

At the abbey of Lagrasse, the quarrel between the two chapels

By François Krug and Philippe Gagnebet

Posted today at 19:54, updated at 19:56

The Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse abbey. All photos were taken December 15, 2021.

On the evening of June 15, a man in his fifties, shoulder-length brown hair, beard, chin in galoche, wanders in the streets of Lagrasse (Aude), a village of 530 inhabitants hidden in the Corbières, at a thirty kilometers from Carcassonne. He enters the Café de la Promenade and orders a pastis. A client, Renaud Oulès, recognizes this.

What can the writer and literary columnist do at Figaro Magazine Frédéric Beigbeder in Lagrasse, alone, on a Tuesday evening, out of season? Intrigued, Oulès engages in conversation. He remembers Beigbeder’s explanation: “I escaped from the abbey to have a drink. “ And his reply to him: “The abbey? Among the fascists? “

Fachos? Beigbeder does not understand. The Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse abbey is inhabited by a small community of Catholic religious, the canons regular of the Mother of God, with cassock, mass in Latin and Gregorian chants. The writer finds them rather nice and open-minded. He has been attending their services for three days, eating in silence with them in the refectory, sleeping like them in an austere cell. It is not a spiritual retreat, but a literary experience.

Beigbeder reveals to his interlocutor that the canons invited him to contribute to a collective book on their subject. Moreover, Sylvain Tesson or even Franz-Olivier Giesbert will soon each land in turn at the abbey. In the village, no one was informed. Once his pastis is finished, Beigbeder leaves the Café de la Promenade, to settle in another establishment in the village, Le 1900. There he finds what he was looking for: a screen to watch the Euro France-Germany match. . In his cell, he doesn’t have TV.

Garbage or threatening emails

The client, Renaud Oulès, knows the place well, or rather, the places. Placed on the other side of the Orbieu, the river which crosses Lagrasse, the abbey is split in two. The theater of a war of territories and cultures. Part of the main building – a cloister, cellar and gardens – belongs to the departmental council of Aude, and houses the Le Marque-page association, founded by former far-left activists, and for which Renaud works Where the.

She is the one who organizes Lagrasse’s Book Banquet. This cutting-edge event mixing literature and knowledge around debates, screenings and meetings welcomes several thousand visitors every summer. The other part of the main building – another cloister, another garden and the church – belongs to the canons. The ones and the others do not share the same vision of the company, but lived in good understanding until some, here, called “The attack”.

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