We often think about the old parish priest of Cormatin who used to live at La Maison du Curé. His name was René Laheurte and he was by all accounts a kindly man who would sit and read outside the front door, greeting his parishioners as they passed by. In the early 1990s he retired and went to live in Corsica. He died in 1993 and was brought back to be buried in the graveyard of St Martin d’Ougy near Malay.
I don’t think that the old Curé ever left us. His calming presence is still felt throughout the house and our German guests have even seen him sitting by the fire in the dining room. I was so surprised to hear this I forgot to ask what he looked like.
Last autumn we met the artist Patrick Balleriaud who had just returned to take over the family farm in Chazelle. I asked if he had known the Curé. Yes, he said, he both baptised me and married me. He was tall with a good head of hair. He had a particular way of holding his fingers when giving out the wafers and wine…
I wondered if there were any photos. Patrick asked around and came up with two. From these he was able to draw a portrait which will soon have pride of place in the hall at La Maison du Curé.