Now what? Life in rural Ariege

Burblings about adjusting to life in the deep south west of France or "la France profonde" as they call it here and the challenges of restoring a ramshackle collection of tumbledown buildings. I mainly write about local festivals, events and celebrations and, most of all, the weekly ritual of combing vide greniers and brocantes for pre-loved vintage treasures.

30 April 2013

The secret of the stones

The symbolic stones that decorate the facade of our 16th century chapel have fascinated me for many years now. A few years back our house had an offical plaque put on the outside outlining the history of the chapel but the information on the stones was always a little on the light side for me.

The uppermost stone in particular has always interested me. According to the plaque it is an equilateral triangle which symbolises the Trinity.  Yes, I can see that, but it does not explain the mysterious carved characters inside the triangle.

Then a month ago a rather unusual incident occured here. Jehovah's Witnesses knocked at the door. Admittedly, this is a rather everyday occurance in Britain but it was a first here in Camon, France. Also instead of thrusting a copy of The Watchtower into my hand they stepped back into the road and pointed to the triangular stone.

"That is the name of Jehovah written on the stone" they told me.

And to back this up they showed me this:

I can see similarities of course, but I'm still not totally convinced. I can see there are 4 characters that I now know is referred to as the Tetragrammaton, but it's certainly not identical.

Then 2 weeks ago we had the pleasure of friends, S&M (that doesn't sound right) or should I say M&S (er, that's not much better), visiting us. After we collected them from Carcassonne Airport we visited the cite, ambling around the narrow cobbled streets, the ramparts, the castle and finally the church. We had just negotiated a path  through the schoolchildren gazing up at the stained glass windows when I spotted this:

A wonderful lavishly embroidered pulpit hanging with a stunning applique of an equilateral triangle with a tetragrammaton in the middle. And this one is nearly identical to the carving on our stone.

According to wikipedia, the most widely accepted pronunciation of the tetragrammaton (YHWH) is Yahweh though Jehovah is used in many Bibles. Furthermore, the written Tetragrammaton must be treated with special sanctity and cannot be disposed of in case they are desecrated. Luckily the symbolic stones on the front of our chapel are protected for the future.

Thanks to Mark for his super-sleuthing research!