Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More on Saint Namphaise and Polnagreff

The technology of the internet is a powerful thing.

Soon after a reprint of my blog posts on Saint Namphaise were published on the French Entree website I received an email from an owner of a Bed and Breakfast near the village of Pradines (close to Cahors). She was inspired to do some investigating on her own.

First thing was the strange statue in the courtyard of Hotel Dieu. It seems that its exterior changes each year with the graduation of each medical school class.

That makes sense to me now. Medical students have a strange sense of humor, I have known enough of them over the years.

She also looked into what she could find on Saint Namphaise and was gracious enough to allow me to reprint her message on my blog. She found an academic article about him as well as photographs of statues and paintings of him. Unfortunately, I did not find any of that artwork on my trip and so I do not have the rights to them.

You can however, click to view them. (There are links to photos with the academic article as well.)

I realized after reading her message that I forgot to say how Saint Namphaise died in my last post about him.

He died tragically as most good saint stories demand. You simply must be martyred in some gory manner and he did such a death. He was gored by a bull.

The hammer he held in his hand that flew into the air obviously did not help him survive such a close encounter with a horned bovine.

Here is her email message:

Hi Linda,

I was totally amazed at your chasing saints in Quercy ! I happened to hear about it on Frenchentree website. From there, I visited your most interesting website. Congratulations on your finding that hotel in the Hotel Dieu Hospital. We are Parisians and had never heard of that hotel.

Now, I felt sorry not to understand the reason of that strange statue in the hospital courtyard. So, yesterday I wrote to the hotel and here is the answer I got today :


merci pour votre message.

concernant la statue, à l'origine elle représente un célèbre chirurgien, Dupuytren. Elle est régulièrement redécorée par les étudiants en médecine. Cette année ils ont choisi de lui donner l'allure du célèbre chanteur Polnareff et l'ont intitulé Polnagreff en raison des différentes greffes pratiquées à l'Hôtel Dieu.

en espérant avoir répondu à votre demande,


Catherine Jarrige

So, now we know that's this statue of the famous French surgeon Dupuytren is redecorated every year by medecine students. This year they gave it the look of Polnareff and made a pun on words because of the greffs !

Concerning Saint Namphaise, although I'm far from being passionate by history, I became very interested by your research through French little roads. And I thought maybe you didn't get all the information you might have wished to find because you looked at Google.com and not at Google.fr with "French" as your preferences. Here is what I found :

the legend

more serious from the Historical Society of the Lot

very serious again from the CNRS (centre de recherche scientifique) (in fact it's the same thing!)

When St Namphaise was digging lakes

the story of St Namphaise : (the article was written almost at the time you were in Cajarc ! you might have met the webmaster Christophe Laurens.)

in the blue part about the digging

the official church monography

a very funny article where we learn that your saint was able to cure epilepsy

a few lines about Quissac

the photo of his statue !

Incredible ! do you know that he was killed by a bull ? (read at the end, "à gauche")

another beautiful picture

some more about the crypt

there is even a book telling this story but unfortunately it seems the sale on e-bay is over

Well, it was very exciting to look for all these documents, I just hope it might be of some use to you.

Now, just a few lines to tell you who I am.

I live half the year in Pradines, near Cahors and half in Paris. I am now a retired English teacher and with my husband Francis we run a B & B, and love to welcome foreign guests. I was born in Senegal where I have lived for 22 years. I also lived in Britain, in California and in Brazil.

If ever you come back to France, we'll be delighted to meet you. My husband doesn't speak English but I can imagine you're going to improve and anyway you can communicate with few words, can't you. I loved your description of your effort in French !

All the best for your book.

Kindest regards.

Agnès Sevrin-Cance

Agnès et Francis Sevrin-Cance
Chambres d'hôtes Téranga
notre site : www.chambresteranga.com

Her website looks wonderful. If anyone is inspired to want to follow my footsteps, you might want to stay at her place. I can say that the area is spectacular.

I shall try to post more on Paris soon.


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