The Bishop Comes to Town

Montauban Cathedral

Montauban Cathedral

I don’t recall ever having met a bishop before. But such are the exalted circles in which I move these days that I recently had not one but two occasions to meet Mgr Bernard Ginoux, Bishop of Montauban (there’s his cathedral above). He was paying an extended visit to the farther-flung part of his diocese as part of his pastoral duties.

A distinguished audience for Parisot Choir

The first occasion was when he dropped in to hear le choeur de Parisot’s rehearsal last week. We have to have the permission of the diocesan authorities to sing in local churches. So, naturally, we were anxious that he should form a favourable opinion of our programme as well as our singing. We always sing a bit better in front of an audience and we played it up quite well to Mgr Ginoux, I thought.

He was complimentary about our singing. Well, he couldn’t be anything else, really. However, he did say he would come to one of our concerts. He was even heard to invite us to sing in Montauban, but it remains to be seen whether anything comes of that. We’ll soon be calling ourselves le choeur international de Parisot if we get as far as Montauban.

While I’m on the subject, we have two concerts scheduled in April (and two in June, but I’ll mention those nearer the time):

  • Friday 12th April at 20h00 at the church at Limogne-en-Quercy (in the Lot département, which really is another country)
  • Saturday 20th April at 20h00 at l’église Saint-Andéol at Parisot

Episcopal inspection of the church at Teysseroles

L to R: Père Serge, Mgr Ginoux, the SF, Alain Vignes Assoc President

L to R: Père Serge, Mgr Ginoux, the SF, Alain Vignes Assoc President

Our next opportunity to meet Mgr Ginoux came on Tuesday afternoon. A group of us who are active in the association restoring the church at Teysseroles braved the biting cold winds that preceded Wednesday’s snow. We showed the bishop around the site and inside the dilapidated church itself, which if anything was even colder than the cemetery. (For other posts about the restoration at Teysseroles, click on ‘Teysseroles chapel’ under Topics in the sidebar).

Deciphering a headstone

Deciphering a headstone

He stayed for about half an hour, looked at everything, listened to our tales of battles with EDF and Bâtiments de France and related some of his own experiences of restoring ecclesiastical heritage. The episcopal residence at Montauban is built in the local red brick but the Bâtiments de France architect advised him to have it rendered and painted white. So they don’t always get it right.

Contemplating the belltower

Contemplating the belltower

Off he went to his next port of call. But he did promise to come to the inauguration at Teysseroles once all the work is finished. That might take some time.

On the subject of Teysseroles, we have recently received authorisation to remove the crumbling plaster from the walls inside the church prior to the works starting in earnest. So we have set a day in early April – punctuated by lunch, naturally – to get going on it. This is no mean undertaking. The walls inside are 6 metres high, so it will involve scaffolding, hard hats, lots of dust and a great deal of hard work. But there’ll also be plenty of goodwill and fun. And we will feel we are really starting to achieve something.

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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6 Responses to The Bishop Comes to Town

  1. The Bishop of Salisbury visited our local Church of St. Peter’s last September. Having spent years planning – and months implementing – the refurbishment of the Church, he came to bless the new altar. And to our delight, he wrote about the project in The Times [no less]. I can relate to your struggle to overcome the obstacles you face at Teysseroles; here we struggle with English Heritage, The Victorian Society, the Diocesan Advisory Committee, and various locals. But to encourage you to continue the struggle, it’s all worth it in the end! And we have a choir planning to visit us from Bayeux in June . . .

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    • nessafrance says:

      Thank you for your encouragement. As you might have gathered, we are at an early stage in the Teysseroles project and are constantly aware of how much there is to do. It does make a big difference when the VIPs show an interest. It sounds as if your own project was well worth pursuing.

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  2. Evelyn says:

    O-o-o! another concert! I’m going to put the one at Limogne on my calendar right now. What is on the musical agenda for that night? Any possibility I could peek inside the chapel and take a few photos when you commence with the plaster work in April??? BTW…this is why I’m an Episcopalian…our bishops are much less scary! I’m even on a first name basic with my bishop in Iowa!

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    • nessafrance says:

      I’ve emailed you with more details about the concert. I’ll post up here about it too.

      I don’t know about being on first name terms with Mgr Ginoux – I don’t think that would have gone down well! I wasn’t sure what to call him so plumped for ‘Monseigneur’, which fortunately turned out to be correct.

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  3. Creuse is drastically short of priests so goodness knows if we stretch as far as a bishop! Nice to see that he’s so approachable and involved in local community affairs.
    I met a couple of bishops in Ireland and they were slightly scary…

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    • nessafrance says:

      Not being in any way religious I haven’t had a lot of contact with the local clergy, but I must say the ones I have met have generally been approachable and not scary at all. It was greatly appreciated that the bishop spent some time in the area getting to know it.

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