Letter from Stéphane Bern to his bell tower

Letter from Stéphane Bern to his bell tower

Imposing with its octagonal roof that a rich abbot financed at the end of the 17th century, as if to mark the importance of Thiron Abbey where the Benedictine monks had opened a college, the bell tower is my closest neighbor. I cherish it as such. He watches over the royal military college of Thiron-Gardais where I moved in 2016, once the restoration work was completed, as I watch over him. This bell tower has become my landmark. When I see it from afar, on the road to Chartres, I feel the same emotion as that which led me to buy this former Royal Military College in the Department of Eure-et-Loir, to settle in fully when I leave. of the two confinements in this pretty village of Perche and to invest myself there this year as a municipal councilor. His slender figure, although wearing a cumbersome slate hat, became familiar to me, almost friendly and complicit. It is true that “my” bell tower is omnipresent in the village it dominates and it wonderfully complements the classic facade of my College from the French gardens. It is a sort of Percheron semaphore, watching over the destiny of the monuments which surround it, attesting to a story inscribed in the History of France for nine centuries and which draws its origins from the religious fervor of the Christian Middle Ages. Looking at it from all sides, how can we not think of what Marcel Proust wrote in his work “On the side of Swann”: “It was the bell tower of Saint-Hilaire which gave all occupations, at all hours , from every point of view of the city, their figure, their crowning, their consecration (…) Even in the races that we had to do behind the church, where we could not see it, everything seemed ordered by. relation to the bell tower emerging here and there between the houses, perhaps even more moving when it appeared like this without the church”.

Certainly, the bell tower of our village is the silent witness of our lives. It is an integral part of the landscape and the life of the town has been organized for centuries around it and its abbey church, its bell has ticked off the hours, marking over time the great sad or happy events of our existence. I hear, from here and there, that our country no longer has the means to maintain our religious heritage and that it would be appropriate to sacrifice a few bell towers that adorn our landscapes… when we spend so much to plant wind turbines on concrete bases! Whether we are believers or not, whatever our religious tradition, these bell towers have contributed, with the churches they cover, to forging the face of France and this historical and spiritual heritage, of which we are collectively and individually. the depositaries. Only one question is worth asking at a time when some would like to make a clean slate of the past, what will remain of our country when we have disfigured it, what will be the face of France after their disappearance? It is to be feared that we will then have lost our soul, the respect for our ancestors and ourselves, even our reason for being.

This is the reason why I decided, with all of you, to get involved with the Pilgrim, for this noble and just cause “I love my bell tower”.

Stéphane Bern

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