Buzet-sur-Tarn

From Vincentian Encyclopedia

Buzet-sur-Tarn

The village of Buzet-sur-Tarn numbers today some 500 inhabitants and is located on the left bank (south) of the river Tarn, some 40 kilometers north of Toulouse. It is a bastide, one of series of forts built throughout southern France in the thirteenth century, generally on the same plan. All the bastides look similar, with a rectangular layout, often surrounding an existing building; and with walls and towers. Its castle used to adjoin the church; only its tower remains. The castle guarded the river Tarn between Albi and Montauban. The only bridge in the area crossed here; only its access ramp and some pillars (and a modern suspension bridge) remain after a devastating flood in 1930.

Buzet is important in Vincent's biography since it is believed that in this village he began a small school for some local boys. The story is confused and uncertain in many respects, but it seems well founded that the young priest had some connections here. Since it would not have been possible for him to come and go quickly to Toulouse, his work here presumed a continuous presence of some months, probably in the summers and at other holiday periods. It is commonly believed that Vincent undertook this work to help pay for his schooling, quite possibley since he did not receive the income from the parish. He seems later to have moved the school to Toulouse, thus obviating the travel problems.

The parish church of Saint Pierre is Gothic, dating in its present form from the fifteenth century. It was much restored in the late nineteenth century. The brick octagonal tower, 33 meters in height, is visible from some distance. Its lower section served as the watchtower of the castle, now long gone. At some later period, the top section of the tower was added. Inside the chapel are paintings of Saint Vincent at the deathbed of Louis XIII and teaching in his school at Buzet. The students in the school are portrayed as elegantly dressed, carrying on the tradition of their noble status. Another large painting represents the saint with children; angels display a ribbon with the words charitè, humilitè, simplicitè, traditional virtues of the Daughters of Charity. Stained glass windows also recall his ministry in Buzet. He certainly would have prayed in this church and probably celebrated Mass here. It is extremely difficult to be certain about the saint's whereabouts or about his chronology during this period. (A statue commonly seen in local churches is of Saint Germaine of Pibrac, patroness of young farmers. She is depicted here carrying a load of roses in her apron. She died in 1601).

The house where Vincent lived is confidently shown. Its location, however, is based only on local tradition. It is at the end of a small impasse off the Grande Rue des Fleurs, between number 82 and 96. The house had two large rooms that could have served as a small school. They are not in good condition at present. According to the story in Abelly, Vincent pursued his studies in Toulouse but at the same time had the chance to work for several of the leading men of the area, who boarded their children with him.