By Sister Thérèse Potelle, RSCM
The church of Saint-Aphrodise in Béziers contains many paintings of great historical interest from the 17th to the 19th century. Recently restored, one of them represents Saint Andiu de la Galinière, one of the patron saints of the town, along with Saint Aphrodise and Saint Guiraud. Father Gailhac and all the sisters who have preceded us in Béziers have certainly celebrated Saint Andiu every year and taken part in the town’s festival.
Even today, in spite of the pandemic, the Confraternity of St Andiu de la Galinière has not failed in its tradition. With Sr. Bernadette I took part in the Eucharist presided over by Mr. Brugues in the Basilica of St. Andiu de la Galinière in the presence of the members of the Confraternity in full dress. In French and in Occitan language we prayed to Saint Andiu to protect the vine and the winegrowers who make Béziers and its surroundings live.
Legend has it that Saint Andiu was a hard-working and very pious farm worker who liked to help his fellow men, especially pilgrims and beggars, by giving them something to drink from a small barrel. In order to help him in his task, the Lord often sent him one of his angels and one day he performed a real miracle: while the master of the Galinere Estate only gave him bad wine, the barrel was filled with excellent wine that never ran out. The master, having heard about this miracle, thought that St. Andiu was stealing his wine, but after tasting the nectar, he understood his mistake and became a generous and good man.
This legend is partly described by the painting. Saint Andiu is depicted full-length in the foreground and in the background he is praying next to a team of oxen pulled by angels. The barrel, the object of the miracle, can be seen on the bank. The scene is situated in front of the Biterroise hill which was fortified at the time. This is the oldest representation we have of the ramparts, traces of which surround the Good Shepherd, the Mother House and the Cours St. Jean.
PRAYER to St.Andiu de la Galinière.
O great St.Andiu, you whom our ancestors, farmers, have chosen as their patron saint, we ask you on this day to grant us your protection and support in the accomplishment of our triple mission:
To promote the vine, wine and local products.
To maintain our traditions and our Occitan culture.
To defend and enhance our heritage.
On this day when we celebrate you, watch over your faithful servants and our winegrowers who are in pain. Keep us in peace, joy and friendship.
Article in French: