Catalan farmers call on Saint Goderic to make it rain – Science et Avenir

Catalan farmers, catastrophic due to a winter drought, brought the relics of their patron saint to Perpignan on Saturday and revived a tradition forgotten for over a century in the hope of bringing rain to the Eastern Pyrenees.

“At some point, the situation is so critical that we bring out all possible saints, we call on everyone,” sums up jokingly 29-year-old Julien Bousquet, a gardener and forest grower participating in the procession.

Under stormy skies, hundreds of people (clerics, religious brotherhoods, farmers and the curious) marched through the streets of old Perpignan, carrying the relics of the patron saint of Catalan farmers, Saint Goderic.

The Catholic procession ended on the banks of the Teta, one of the main rivers of the Eastern Pyrenees. Four farmers walked through the shallow waters, carrying the reliquary of Saint-Godéric on their shoulders to ask for his intercession.

– Old Ritual –

“This ritual has not been practiced for almost 150 years,” said Archpriest of the Perpignan Cathedral, Benoit de Roque, who led the ceremony, organized at the request of a local wine grower.

Saint Goderic (Galderic in Catalan), a 9th-century peasant from Aude, is one of the most famous and celebrated Catalan saints, and is “traditionally approached for water problems,” he elaborates.

Between the 11th and 19th centuries, 800 processions in his honor took place in the region. but also from the plague.

If the rite “stopped between 1850 and 1880 with the advent of the industrial age,” then the saint “did not fall into oblivion,” he continues, pointing out that his feast is still celebrated on October 16 and that children still bear the name of Galderic today.

– Despair –

Launch of the Saint Goderic statue in Perpignan to stop the rain, March 18, 2023 (AFP – RAYMOND ROIG)

However, this return of allegiance in 2023 coincides with a crisis that farmers are calling unprecedented. “Now we are clinging to everything,” breathes André Trives, 40, an agroecology gardener, who describes the “catastrophic” situation.

“We know that if there is no recharge by April-May (…) August 15, there will be no more water,” he fears, saying that they, however, “did not wait until Saint Goderic prayed (for) water “.

“Meteo-France announces rain this weekend (…), but it will take weeks there for the water to penetrate the ground and replenish the groundwater,” adds Julien Bousquet, watching the procession from above.

Since October, the Eastern Pyrenees department, one of the most drought-affected regions in France, has recorded just 159.4mm of rainfall since October, representing a 60.8% rainfall deficit compared to normal seasonal precipitation, according to Meteo-France.

“Everything has practically dried up (…) it is very disturbing, but we are full of hope and hope. We must pray, we will have water,” says 50-year-old winemaker Damien de Bessomb, who volunteered to carry the wine. relics.

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