My French Catholic roots
#1
My Catholic roots are French, but I am sadly ignorant of French Catholic culture.  The Italians and the Irish, God bless them, seem to get most of the press in the U.S..  I know that we are One Church, but having said that, can anyone out there contribute any nuggets of French Catholic culture?  Books, saint lore, current state of the church in France, etc.... 
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#2
Romanesque and Gothic architecture aren't too shabby. Then you've got the patron saints of France: St. Michael, Joan of Arc, Therese of Lisieux. The Cistercian Order. Heck, the French have bequeathed all kinds of great things to Catholic culture.

It so happens that my direct male line is French-Canadian, and that in another I descend from Hugh Capet (like another few million people, probably), so I welcome the occasion to reflect on this stuff.

I'd be interested in hearing about specifically French-Canadian Catholic customs, etc. My great-grandfather completely assimilated to the Southern WASP crowd after he left the New England mill town where he grew up and became a kind of Horatio Alger protagonist come to life. His forebearers, it transpires, were interesting and well-documented, but I had to find out about them entirely on my own. In fact, his background was so murky to me when I was younger that my original hunch was that he was Jewish, and that the tidbit I'd heard about his being French Canadian was part of an alias. At the same time I converted to Catholicism, therefore, I thought I was doing something quite unprecedented in the post-Reformation history of my family, but it now seems I was returning to at least one set of roots.

Actually, there was another fairly recent Catholic line, but one tainted by scandal--Jacobite priest defrocked for braining a Tory with a shovel, escaped to the U.S. and became a Baptist missionary to the Seminoles after a failed attempt at being a mercenary in Latin America that landed him in prison in Cuba. Exotic, but apostate, alas.

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#3
Good stuff!  Good stuff!  Thanks for the reply, WilfredLeblanc. 

Let's see, by mother's mother's father's father came over from the Alsace region, surname something like "Voisine."  He sired my great grandfather, Joe Visner (apparently anglicized by that time) out Minnesota way.  Joe was a baseball player around the turn of the century, and his stats can be found in the Baseball Almanac.

Joe's father, while not an apostate, was alas a bit of a rogue.  My mother, may she rest in peace, told us kids that he had been tried and acquitted for killing two Native Americans when they attacked him as he discovered them stealing from his trap line.  This would be in Chippewa country, I believe.  My cousin, much later, did some genealogical research, and discovered that the Native Americans had actually caught him in the act of stealing from their trap line.  May God have mercy on his soul.

So you see, my lineage is far from Gothic architecture, the glory of Joan of Arc and the tenderness of Therese of Lisieux, but I'll claim them, and hold them close to my heart nonetheless!

Cheers to you for sharing your wonderful story, and let's hope we get lots more French and French-Canadian goodies.
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#4
(10-09-2009, 12:46 AM)iakobos Wrote: Joe's father, while not an apostate, was alas a bit of a rogue.  My mother, may she rest in peace, told us kids that he had been tried and acquitted for killing two Native Americans when they attacked him as he discovered them stealing from his trap line.  This would be in Chippewa country, I believe.  My cousin, much later, did some genealogical research, and discovered that the Native Americans had actually caught him in the act of stealing from their trap line.  May God have mercy on his soul.

Right back at ya with a rogue ancestor story about my other Catholic line, a g-g-g-grandfather from my mother's side (again, something I had to dig up on my own):

This guy was the grandson of Jacobites who wound up in Ireland sometime after the Battle of Culloden Moor. His parents wound up getting caught up in some Irish rebellion later on and were hung as traitors, whereupon he was sent to an orphanage in Limerick. He then entered the seminary and wound up taking Holy Orders, but had meanwhile sworn vengeance against the individual who turned his parents in to the Crown. Somehow, he actually managed to run into the guy and promptly brained him with a shovel. Alas, he was then defrocked and spirited out of Ireland, ultimately finding his calling as a Baptist missionary to the Seminoles after some kind of conversion experience, in the interim, during a stint in a Cuban prison where he had landed while trying to become a mercenary in the Latin American independence wars. Crazy stuff!
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#5
Go to Wikipedia and check 'French School of Spirituality'. The XXVIIth Century in France was amaxing. I can;t even begin to list all the Saints, but Francois de Sales, Vincent de Paul and Louis de Montfort come to mind!
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#6
(10-08-2009, 11:51 PM)iakobos Wrote: My Catholic roots are French, but I am sadly ignorant of French Catholic culture.  The Italians and the Irish, God bless them, seem to get most of the press in the U.S..  I know that we are One Church, but having said that, can anyone out there contribute any nuggets of French Catholic culture?  Books, saint lore, current state of the church in France, etc.... 

Back in the 15th Century the thumb rule was: Francia procedit, Hispania legislavit, Germania obedivit,  Hungaria non valet. (Im am Hungarian)

Interestingly this was true for the French Catholics even in the beginning of the 20th Century, they were the leaders of the new directions: missa recitata for involvement of the community, working priests, manyt (positive and negative) ideas behind Vatican II 

Unfortunately this new directions turned to be mostly bad: rationalism, liturgical devaluation, etc.

Fortunately many traditionalist people and priest are French or from French background.
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#7
My mom is first generation American - her people are France French and Quebecois; farmers mostly.  Everybody's grandma had a picture of The Pope on the wall in the living room, and if you thought you were going to miss Mass, you had another thing coming. Memere would lay out your clothes and pour cold water on your face until you got up.  Yes, even if you were sick.  If you were conscious, you were going to Mass.  "What's the difference?  You sit down in here?  You sit down over there? "  If you didn't go, she'd cry all day.

I half grew up around that culture; the ones I knew were unselfconsciously Catholic.  The Church was life - feasts were big, loud, and joyous and filled with laughing and dancing and food (and drinking and fighting).  Fasts were somber.  It wasn't complicated, but very heartfelt.  People made pilgrimages, wore scapulars, cleaned the church, cooked for the priests, gave to the poor, and they did it all with a kind of intensity and humility that one hardly sees anymore. 
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#8
I am a French Catholic. :)

As there is so much to say on the matter, allow me to quote the Wikipedia article "Roman Catholicism in France":

Quote:The Church of France, sometimes called the "eldest daughter of the Church" owing to its early and unbroken communion (second century) with the bishop of Rome, is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church. The French church is under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, curia in Rome, and the Conference of French bishops.

It is estimated that 83-90% of France's population are Catholic, in 98 dioceses, served by 20,523 priests. It takes pride in some of the most beautiful churches in all of Christianity, including Notre Dame de Paris, Chartres Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, and Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, Eglise de la Madeleine, and Amiens Cathedral. Its shrine, Lourdes, is visited by 5 million pilgrims yearly. Some of its most famous saints include St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Irenaeus, St. John Vianney the Cure of Ars, St. Joan of Arc, St. Bernadette, Louis IX of France, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

Add to that, alongside those cited by Jovan: St Hilary of Poitiers (Doctor of the Church); St Martin of Tours; St Vincent of Lérins (author of the doctrinal expression "quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus"); St Isabelle (sister of St Louis); St Jean Eudes and St Marguerite-Marie Alacoque (propagators of the devotion to the Sacred Heart); St Jean-Baptiste de La Salle (educator); St Pierre Julien Eymard ("Apostle of the Eucharist"); St Catherine Labouré (to whom Our Blessed Mother revealed the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, which, on account of its fruits, quickly earned the title under which it is better known, that of "Miraculous Medal"); Bl. Jeanne Jugan (to be canonised on Sunday); et al.

It ought to be said that while a great majority of the French population may be nominally Catholic, the proportion of real Catholics is so small as to be negligible in terms of public opinion and influence. While France was in the mid-20th century a hotbed of modernism and liturgical reform (the protagonists whereof left the Church in the Sixties/Seventies, are dead, or constitute a dying breed — though I suspect that we still have dozens of bishops in the Lodges), it is also the country of Abp Lefebvre and the one which, as far as I know, counts the greatest number of Catholic traditionalists (I have heard that the SSPX has some 100,000 faithful here).

As regards French Catholic culture per se, the following features come to mind: Scouting, as Catholic Scouting is, so to say, a rite of passage for Catholic children; the Assumption procession, given that in February of 1638, Louis XIII, desiring an heir, consecrated France to the Virgin Mary and asked that his subjects perform a procession for the birth of a son on every fifteenth of August, which act of devotion became a widespread tradition after the birth of Louis XIV in September of that same year; and the famous Pardons of Brittany.
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#9
(10-09-2009, 08:25 AM)glgas Wrote:
(10-08-2009, 11:51 PM)iakobos Wrote: My Catholic roots are French, but I am sadly ignorant of French Catholic culture.  The Italians and the Irish, God bless them, seem to get most of the press in the U.S..  I know that we are One Church, but having said that, can anyone out there contribute any nuggets of French Catholic culture?  Books, saint lore, current state of the church in France, etc.... 

Back in the 15th Century the thumb rule was: Francia procedit, Hispania legislavit, Germania obedivit,  Hungaria non valet. (Im am Hungarian)

Interestingly this was true for the French Catholics even in the beginning of the 20th Century, they were the leaders of the new directions: missa recitata for involvement of the community, working priests, manyt (positive and negative) ideas behind Vatican II 

Unfortunately this new directions turned to be mostly bad: rationalism, liturgical devaluation, etc.

Fortunately many traditionalist people and priest are French or from French background.

I agree, there are a lot of Traditionalists in France, including in NO parishes. For example, our parish priest in a small town of south France, is a NO priest in full communion with his bishop. No clown-masses in his church. He even made  an attempt to install the latin mass, but he stopped due to not enough attendants.
I know first hand that he has close contacts with the Abbé de Nantes group.
Since I won't be a shismatic, I avoided the Lefebvrites until the lifting of the Bishop's excommunications. Now I am re considering my stance.
Anyway, I am certain that the renewal of the Church will happen through France's catholics even if the true faithfuls are small in number.
For example, I was very pleased in hearing that if the Lefebvrites will come back in communion with Rome, their priests will count for almost ONE QUARTER among the Franc'es priests. This makes the French bishops sick & mad and they are pushing hard against the reconciliation.
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#10
My wife is a Quebec French Catholic. The FSSP pastor of Colorado Springs is a French national. Last night in his office as he was catechizing my daughter, I was looking a wall map of France, and in his Gaulic humor, he said I was studying the center of the universe.  :laughing:The context was better in person, i.e. you had to be there. Vive Fr. Dupre`.
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