In Perpignan, a religious and political procession to make the rain fall

In Perpignan, a religious and political procession to make the rain fall

Penitents carry the statue of Saint Gaudéric, patron saint of farmers, in the Têt river, in Perpignan, on March 18, 2023.

A religious procession before a new meeting with the prefect on March 21. In the Pyrénées-Orientales, the agricultural world no longer knows where to turn so that the rain finally falls, while the department remains affected by an exceptional drought, with a rainfall deficit of 70% for the last few months. In fact, the system of so-called gravity canals, supplying municipalities and farms, is at a standstill due to the lack of water in the lakes and after a decision by the Montpellier administrative court of November 29, 2022, which calls into question the water withdrawals from the Têt, one of the department’s three rivers.

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Faced with this exceptional situation, and at the initiative of a Catholic farmer, Charles Puig, a procession bringing together around a thousand faithful walked the streets, Saturday, March 18, to the Têt river, to celebrate Saint Gaudéric. For centuries, the relics – a reliquary bust and bones – of this peasant born around 820, author of miracles, were transported to the river to make the rain fall.

“Between the 11th and 19th centuries, processions multiplied. At least eight hundred took place at the time of the Revolution. Then the tradition was lost, explained Father Christophe Lefèvre, vicar of Saint-Jean Cathedral. If the tradition had persisted in a few villages, it had been a hundred and fifty years since Perpignan had implored Gaudéric. Mr. Puig, also a municipal councilor for the National Rally (RN) in Perpignan, says:

“It was when I saw the very low level of Lake Vinça in early February that I decided to contact the bishopric to relaunch the tradition of Saint-Gaudéric. »

“The municipality does not intervene in any place”

The farmer was able to count on the support of Jean-Luc Antoniazzi, doctor of history and president of theCultural Association of the Cathedral and Historic Churches of Perpignan. And also responsible for relations with the bishopric within the same municipal council led by the mayor RN of the city, Louis Aliot. “This procession is purely religious,” assured the World Mr Antoniazzi. If some of his deputies paraded well, Mr. Aliot, for his part, did not come to celebrate Gaudéric, and his services specified the day before that “the municipality does not intervene in any place in this demonstration”.

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In the procession, Gérard Majoral, farmer in Thuir, former rugby player and member of the chamber of agriculture, said “I don’t care if it’s right or left, the important thing is that it’s no longer the farmers who manage their water, but technocrats and a myriad of state services”. “We were the first to save the resource and today we are prevented from irrigating, the profession is at the end of its tether”he adds.

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