The Legend of Saint Leon

In his preface, the author notes that in the two lives of St. Leo, “hagiography—the texts of the saint intended to promote him—are of no help in knowing the period in which the saint passed as he evangelized the city of Bayonne. 9th century.” No historical source. The author then examines the works of historians: Pierre Hourmat, Veillet, Jaurgain, Menjoulet and Mussot-Goulard. Lapurdum, a Roman fortress built in the 4th century, was forged for 1,130 years by Viking raiders, Vascons, Frankish kings, Gascon counts, Christian missionaries and Saracens in their merciless struggles. Bayonne.

Around 890, “Bishop Léon de Carentan was appointed by the Church to convert the pagans and reorganize the Church on the spot. He was a native of Neustria (Normandy) and distinguished himself from the Catholic hierarchy by his charisma and presence. He speaks the language of the North perfectly. This the memory of the character will be preserved until our time”.

Leaving Rouen with his two brothers, Philippe and Gervais, Léon arrives in Bayonne, a “den of heathen robbers.” The doors are closed. They spend the night outside. The next day the priests of Mars (who worshiped the deity) lead them to the public square where Leo makes the sign of the cross and proclaims the word of God to them. This sermon will convert 718 people according to the “small legend”. But the priests are afraid of the spy. Léon will continue his journey through the Basque, Navarre and Spanish forests. Returning to Bayonne, Léon is confronted by the priests of Mars, who have witnessed the destruction of their temple. “They rush upon the blessed men who are busy preaching the Gospel on the banks of the Nive.” Their leader is beheaded. “The body of the saints stands erect, bends down, takes the head, an angel will take it to the place where it now stands.” Below is a historical description of St. Leo’s gate, fountain, and hospital. An excellent work, which requires a lot of scientific research, is illustrated with magnificent illuminations.

(1) “Vikings of Bayonne – Legend of Saint Leo” by Koldo Robles-Aranguiz and Michou Padrones – Atlantica Editions – €29

Anne Lasserre-Vergne is very humble. His little story of Henry Russell is not a biography of the famous Pyreneanist, he says (1). Henry Russell, Irish by father and French by mother, was born in 1834 in Toulouse, where his parents settled. “His family, social background, tireless legs, intelligence, musical talent, passionate feelings, lively spirit and strength of character” perfectly define him, and all who know him recognize him as a man of intelligence and manners. from a gentleman. For the Pyrenees of the period, “physical exercise is not in the mentality”. The climbs are scary. People are afraid of “fatigue, dizziness, nausea, asphyxiation.” The rise of a woman is a feat. For Russell, happiness is out there, near the glaciers. His eccentricity is mocked. He has traveled the New World, Asia, Oceania, but at the foot of the Pyrenees this is an adventure, the real thing… Accompanied by a guide, this romance of the peaks has courage bordering on heroism. He will climb to half a century. Judge for yourself: Pic de Ger (2612), Balaitous (3146), Ardiden (2988), Grand Vignemale (3298), Pic de Marbore (3253), Pic long (3194), Néouvielle (3092), Campbieil (3175) , Arbizon (2831), Gours-Blancs (3202), Crabioules (3116), Montcalm (3080), Canigou (2785), Mont Perdu (3352), the Cotieilla (2910), Posets (3367) ), Maladetta (3312) , Nethou called Aneto (3404), Pic des Tempêtes (3290), Taillon (3146) are the most famous. His cave villa on the Vignemale glacier is the living room of the greatest climbers. Snow, hail, fog, nothing prevents him. Slim at 1.82 m, he has extraordinary physical abilities and a steely mind. A man of conquests, he is not looking for sports achievements, he wants to master all these mountains. Passion for burning twilights, snow mirrors, unimaginable cliffs, chaos of mountains. Thank you for this dazzling review.

1 – “A Short Story of Henry Russell’s Mountaineer in the Pyrenees” by Anne Lasserre-Vergne – Éditions Cairn – July 2021 – €10.

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