Volunteering — with brushes in hand

One morning earlier this week, my wife Jan headed over to Daglan’s outdoor gym, located next to our tennis court and behind the Salle des fêtes, or community hall. When she arrived, she saw a large group of villagers being addressed by Thierry Cabianca, our 2ème adjoint, or the second deputy to the Mayor. What’s up?, she wondered.

Thierry explained to Jan that this was a group of bénévoles, or volunteers, whose mission for the day was to clean and then paint the various Calvaires (monuments carrying a crucifix) throughout the village and up in the hamlets that surround Daglan. Remember that ours is a village that truly cares about its appearance.

Later that morning, as I drove out of Daglan, I spotted one of the groups of volunteers at the north end of the village. One of them was up a ladder, more or less lost in a tree, and I couldn’t figure out why. In any case, here’s some of the people I saw:

Working at the north end of the village.

At the intersection where the volunteers were working stands a large monument to Abbé Guillaume Delfaud, who was born in Daglan in 1733 and eventually was given the title of Archiprêtre, an honorific that means something like Head Priest. (More on him at the end of this posting.) So I figured they were cleaning the bust, and indeed it does look pretty spiffy. Have a look:

A well-placed — and nicely cleaned — monument.

But then why the ladder? It turns out that one of the volunteers had climbed up the ladder in order to paint a crucifix fixed to a monument (dated 1872) several metres from the bust. It’s so high up in the tree branches that, frankly, I’d never noticed it. It’s painted dark green, which makes it even more invisible in the tree. Have a look, and see if you can make it out:

Look! Up in the sky!

Because our home is just below the village church, and a neighbour’s house is the former presbytery, there’s a small crucifix just a few metres from our front steps. It too had been carefully cleaned and painted dark green. Here it is, looking quite well polished:

Freshly scrubbed and painted.

As for the village’s volunteer program, Jan participated a few years ago — in a group effort to clean branches, rocks, fallen trees and other debris out of the Céou River. Now she is planning to follow up with the Mayor’s office, to be added to the list of volunteers for future campaigns.

Some final historical notes: Regarding Abbé Delfaud, the following is an English translation of  a Wikipedia entry in French: “Elected deputy of the clergy to the Estates General of 1789, first favorable to the start of the Revolution,  he then opposed the civil constitution of the clergy. Arrested, he [was] killed in prison [in 1792]. He is recognized as a martyr and blessed by the Catholic Church.”  The bust itself was stolen by the occupying German soldiers near the end of World  War II (1944) and taken to Germany; it was repatriated to Daglan in 1960.

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