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Keywords: haute-loire | langeac | rooster (yellow) | rooster (white) | fleur-de-lys (white) |
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by Arnaud Leroy
The city of Langeac is a small city (4,300 inhabitants, elevation 485 m a.s.l.) located in south-eastern Auvergne on the river Allier, between Brioude and Saugues.
Langeac is located near the entrance of the wild gorge of Upper-Allier, which can be visited only via a scenic railway line built between Langogne and Langeac in the XIXth century.
Until 1977, one of the biggest fluorine mines in France was located near Langeac.
In the past, Langeac was one of the thirteen bonnes villes (good cities) of Auvergne, which sent representatives to the Etats Généraux (State General) of Auvergne. The city was surrounded by a city wall defended by seven fortified gates, only one of them being still standing. In the XIIIth century, the St. Gal's canonical chapter was set up in Langeac. It was suppressed during the French Revolution.
There is also in Langeac a priory dedicated to St. Catherine, still ruled by Dominican nuns. In the first half of the XVIIth century, the Prioress was Mother Agnès of Jesus.
Agnès was born in 1602 in Le Puy-en-Velay. Aged seven, she decided to serve the Blessed Virgin and to wear a heavy iron chain around her waist for the rest of her life. Agnès joined in 1621 the newly built priory of Langeac as a cook; she had to go several times a day to the well, which was located far from the kitchen. However, Agnès did not complain and did not ask any help but to God. Accordingly, a profuse spring of clear water appeared in the kitchen. The miraculous spring (Puits de la Mère Agnès) is said to have healed several sick people; it is today located in the aisle for old people, which replaced the early priory, but is still administrated by the nuns.
Another holy spring, called Trou de la Mère Agnès (Mother Agnès' Hole), is located on the St. Roch's hill, which dominates the city in the south. During the epidemics of black plague in 1630, Mother Agnès encouraged the inhabitants of Langeac to build on the hill a chapel dedicated to St. Roch, then invocated against plague and contagious diseases. The masons in charge of the building site complained because they had to carry uphill water from the river Allier; Agnès marked a specific place and advized the masons to dig there, promising they would find water. The spring is still there, although very weak, and its water was still used by infirms some years ago.
After having caused a miracle in Langeac in 1952, Mother Agnès was beatified by the Holy See in 1994.
On 13 August 1786, General de Lafayette, appointed Marquis de Langeac, visited the city. This Belle Journée (Nice Day) has been commemorated every year since 1997 at the end of July. However, the main festival in Langeac takes place during the first week-end of July, when St. Gal is celebrated.
The Declaration of Langeac was elaborated during the 'Equal Parenting' Summer School, which took place in Langeac from 25 to 31 July 1999. The text of the Declaration can be found in several languages on the Internet, here are the opening principles of the Declaration:
1. Fathers and mothers should be accorded equal status in a child's life, and consequently should have equal rights and equal responsibilities.
2. Where the parents cannot agree, the children should spend equal time living with each parent.
3. Parenthood must be based only on the child-parent relationship, not that between parents. Children have the right to know both parents and vice versa.
Ivan Sache, 15 December 2004
Pictures taken during the 'Equal Parenting' Summer School show two flags hoisted on facades of ancient houses, probably where the Summer School took place:
In the rectangular flag, the rooster looks towards the flag hoist, in the banner the rooster looks towards the flag fly.
The municipal coat of arms of Langeac is (GASO):
D'azur au coq d'argent, crêté et barbillonné de gueules, surmonté d'une fleur de lys d'or.
Timms gives the same blazon, using barbé instead of barbillonne, and the English translation as:
Azure a cock argent combed and wattled gules in chief a fleur de lys or.
These arms were granted by King Charles VIII in 1487. Matthieu says that in 1488, the Consulat (municipal authority) of Langeac was set up; Charles VIII granted un scel commun aux armes d'un coq et une fleur de lys par-dessus (a common seal with as arms a rooster surmonted by a fleur-de-lys).
The Summer School's website shows the coat of arms apparently used in Langeac, with a white rooster looking towards the "hoist" surmonted by a yellow fleur-de-lys. The shield is surmonted by a crown. The scroll placed below the shield bear the (there unreadable) motto of the city.
All these sources show the same coat of arms for Langeac, but the flags show something different. The rectangular flag has the colours of the rooster and the fleur de lys reverted, whereas the forked banner has a rooster as on the coat of arms but no fleur-de-lys at all.
Jan Mertens & Ivan Sache, 15 December 2000
by Arnaud LeroyMostbet