Chavagnes during World War II

The slogan of the village of Chavagnes is 'UNE VOLONTE D'ACCUEIL', which means, roughly, 'a will to welcome'. These words are plastered across one or two garish signs that mark the entrance to the commune's territory. As you enter the 'Mairie', there's another clue: the Latin motto under the Commune's coat of arms, taken from the 133rd Psalm, "habitare fratres in unum". The full quote is : 'this is what is good and pleasant: for brothers to live as one.'

What a wonderful context for an international College, and indeed a beautiful sentiment for us men and boys who live in it, striving, in the midst of all our pride and other imperfections, to live like brothers, in unity.

But the story goes back a long way. There was, of course, the medieval priory on the site of the College, back in the 13th century. Then Father Baudouin's tiny school in his Presbytery, beginning with two pupils.

Another important and inspiring detail in the history of Chavagnes is how, under the nose of a German garrison occupying the seminary (yes, the Ref of Chavagnes once housed dozens of wounded German soliders from the Russian front, and there was a machine gun in the bell tower!) the people of Chavagnes sheltered dozens of Jewish children, and kept the fact quiet right until the 1980s. If you can read French, there is an interesting summary of those events at http://jcdurbant.blog.lemonde.fr/category/religion/christianisme/ ; just scroll down the page a little.

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