“I arrived in Moissac in 2016, but it was only last year that farmers told me about the rogation, a tradition that I didn’t know at all,” priest Pierre Hoan told AFP. , a 43-year-old Vietnamese man.
The first rogations – prayers and supplications – date back to the 5th century in France, and took the form of processions mainly intended for good harvests, recalls the diocese of Montauban in a press release.
“Today, the parishes where they are celebrated have become a rarity”, specifies the text.
Concerned about the situation of farmers, severely affected for months by periods of frost and high heat, Father Hoan therefore challenged himself to fly over the 16 steeples of his parish, to bless the fields and livestock for a few days. before the Ascension.
“In itself, it’s not the plane that matters, but the fact of remembering and reviving traditions,” said the priest, himself a former rice farmer in Vietnam.
In front of the bell tower of Saint-Avit, a rural district of Moissac, Annie Laflorentie, a retired farmer, waits feverishly, her gaze turned towards the sky.
With about fifteen people, they made a large cross with pallets covered with a white cloth, on which they placed roses of all colors, as well as wheat, cherries, apples and asparagus… and a picture of cows.
As the small red and white two-seater airplane passed, which the priest was sprinkling with holy water, the bells rang and the arms were raised. A prayer was then sung.
“The priest is on a plane, it corresponds to our time. With 16 steeples, I don’t see how he could have done that on foot,” smiles Ms. Laflorentie, 69.
“When I was a child, the rogations were done early in the morning and the farmers prepared holy water, a cross, field flowers and wheat for the passage of the priest”, she remembers with nostalgia.
A little further, Brigitte Caulet, cattle breeder, is just as moved.
“I did not know this tradition, it was my first rogation,” smiles the 59-year-old farmer.
“Personally it gives me courage. Of course I believe in it and I would like it to happen every year!”, She continues.
At the controls of the small Piper plane, Léo Carussi, a market gardener with a passion for aeronautics, confides that he immediately agreed to take part in this experiment when farmers contacted him.
“There are some people who believe in it, so why not! And then it helps preserve an old tradition and I think that’s good”, adds the driver who does not rule out playing the game again next year. .