This weekend marked the festival of Saint Brice, the patron saint of Maury. Brice was born in 370 and raised by St. Martin in Marmoutiers, near Strasbourg in Alsace.
According to the Catholic.org web site, he was a “vain, overly ambitious cleric”, who “neglected his duties, was several times accused of lackness and immorality.” He was exiled from his See and after seven years in Rome, “he returned and ruled with such humility, holiness and ability, he was venerated as a saint by the time of his death.”
He died in 444. It is unclear how he became the patron saint of Maury, but I like a town that will give a guy a second chance.
The form of the festival changes each year with the makeup of the organizing committee. A couple of years ago there was a Mexican theme, complete with a parade and mariachis marching up to the town square. This year we had a schedule of events that would not be out of place in any small town in America.
There was a mini carnival with bumper cars, a merry-go-round, a booth where you try to snag a prize from a bin, and cotton candy.
There was a dance last night with a band named Système sans Interdit, which roughly translates to a system without prohibitions, or total freedom, which is why, I suppose they chose to play in their underwear. Looking at their web site, it seems they do this quite often and it works with their self description: “French and Kitsch Music.” The crowd was mixed: older women who left early, young families with little girls dancing and little boys running in circles, and teenaged girls ignoring teenaged boys. It never quite reached the critical mass necessary for ignition but that didn’t seem to bother the band who played without a break for longer than I could take.
There was music at the mass too, a special event for St. Brice’s feast day. Cobla Nova Germanor is a Catalan band from Perpignan whose motto is “Long live the Sardana”. I was thinking of the guitar playing folk singers now an integral part of contemporary Jewish services, but this was different, here they provided some quiet background music to the procession, communion and collection. The mass began with an almost orderly procession of children to the altar and included readings by four of the more prominent women in town. It concluded with a short and warmly received speech by the mayor.
After the mass everyone went over to the Mairie for an aperitif and potato chips. The mayor poured wine, the band had a little more freedom and several women found just enough room to dance a Sardana while the men talked business.
The weekend concluded with a tea dance but worn out from all the unusual activity, I slept right through it. (No Photo)