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Le Prêcheur (Municipality, Martinique, France)

Last modified: 2020-06-28 by ivan sache
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Flag of Le Prêcheur - Image by Ivan Sache, 29 March 2020

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Presentation of Le Prêcheur

The municipality of Le Prêcheur (1,304 inhabitants in 2017; 2,992 ha), located 10 km of Saint-Pierre, is the northernmost village of Martinique.
Le Prêcheur, a former borough of Saint-Pierre was made a parish dedicated to saint Joseph in 1640-1644, which made of it one of the oldest parishes of the island. The village was allegedly named for a preacher-shaped rock that once emerged off the coast.
The municipality of Le Prêcheur was established in 1839. Le Prêcheur was the first village destroyed by the eruption of Mount Pelée on 30 August 1902. The lighthouse of Le Prêcheur, signalling the northern coast of Martinique (range, 18 miles), was built in 1927. The lighthouse was automated in 1990 and has been since then remote-controlled from Fort-de-France.

Françoise d'Aubigné (1635-1719) spent six years in her youth in Grand-Case, after her father had been appointed Governor of Marie-Galante. Back to Europe, she married in 1652 the poet Paul Scarron (1610-1660), 25 years older than she was. As a widow, she was appointed private tutor of Louis XIV's and Madame de Montespan's illegitimate children. After her secrete marriage in 1683 with Louis XIV, she exerted a strong influence on the court, as Madame de Maintenon (indeed, Marchioness of Maintenon), imposing an austere religious faith and some of her enemies (for instance, the Duchess of OrlĂ©ans and the Palatine Princess) criticized her bigotry. Modern historians, however, agreed that her alleged influence on Louis XIV's most controversial acts, the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the declaration of the War of Spanish Succession, have been most exaggerated.
In 1686, Madame de Maintenon founded in Saint-Cyr the Saint-Louis Royal House, dedicated to the education of noble poor girls (like she had been), where she retired in 1715, three days before Louis XIV's death. Of international fame, the Royal House was visited in 1717 by Czar Peter the Great.

Madame de Maintenon convinced Louis XIV to offer a bell to the church of Le Prêcheur; cast in Brest by Thomas Le Sove in 1712, the Bourbon bell is decorated with fleurs-de-lis. It is now the central bell of the parish church designed in 1930 in neo-Byzantine style by René Dantin.
Nothing has remained from the old parish church erected at the end of the 17th century but the main altar, made of a single marble block, which was transferred to the new church. The old bell-tower, a square building of 6 m in side and 12 m in height, still stands on Morne Danty, where it overlooked the old church. This is probably Martinique's oldest monument.
[Françoise d'Aubigné, l'héroîne du Prêcheur]

Ivan Sache, 29 March 2020

Flag of Le Prêcheur

The flag of Le Prêcheur (photo) is white with the municipality's coat of arms and name written beneath the shield.
The coat of arms of Le Prêcheur is "Per bend sinister, 1. A chili pepper gules, 2. Azure waves argent a fish proper." It highlights the village's traditional sources of income, agriculture and fishing.

The arms might also be a direct reference to the village's specific dish, the "boyo thon" (Creole for "boyaux de thon", tuna's guts), a stew composed of fish guts once offered by fishers for free, as a good presage for their next catch. The "boyo thon" tradition is preserved in Le Prêcheur by three restaurants; the "pwéson, son ek boyo ton" (Fish, Sound and Boyo Thon) festival has been organized every year in November since 2011 (video).

Ivan Sache, 29 March 2020