Chavagnes of the Three Popes

In the late 13th century the Pope of the day sent his legate, Bertrand de Got, Archbishop of Bordeaux, on a visitation of the religious houses of our region. He stayed a night or two at the Priory of Chavagnes, on the site of our College, on his way to the Abbey of La Grainetière. Some years later in 1305 he was elected Pope, as Clement V, and was the first Sovereign Pontiff to move the Papal court to Avignon.


In the years following the Second World War Cardinal Roncalli, then Papal Nuncio in Paris, paid a visit to the Junior Seminary of Chavagnes, successor to the old medieval priory dedicated to St Anthony of Egypt. The mayor of the day, Monsieur de Guerry (a keen historian) mentioned that the last time a papal legate visited Chavagnes, six hundred years before, he himself became pope shortly afterwards. Perhaps the same destiny awaited His Eminence, suggested the mayor. And sure enough it did. Roncalli soon after became John XXIII.


In 2004 Mr Ferdi McDermott and Mr Robert Asch, founding teachers of Chavagnes International College, were invited to Rome to visit Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. Messrs Asch and McDermott discussed with the then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith their publishing and educational work for the Church. The Cardinal assured them that he would like to work more closely with them in the future, as he was intending to retire from Rome in the next few months. Instead, not long after the visit, Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI, to the great rejoicing of his friends at Chavagnes.