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
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.
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!