Legacy of a Country Priest

My Friend the Exorcist

Chapel of the Rosary, Lourdes, Fritz von Dardel, 1886

I never learned his name. He was simply “the curé of Sère-Lanso.” In the 1960s, over the course of several years, I visited him regularly and stayed at the rectory. But I never heard him addressed as anything other than “Monsieur le Curé” by his parishioners, and “the curé of Sère-Lanso” when others were talking about him.

In a way, that was appropriate: his function defined him. He had been born in this small village in the foothills of the Pyrenees about six miles from Lourdes. He had entered the White Fathers in his youth, contracted tuberculosis, and been sent back to his natal village to die. But that was more than fifty years before I met him. He was in his eighties at the time, but still going strong—small, chubby, partially bald, but full of energy.

What led me to him originally was that he was rumored to be one of the few people still alive who had known Charles de Foucauld (1858–1916). He received me very cordially. I think he was just happy to have a visitor. The Foucauld theme was quickly exhausted. When the curé was a...

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About the Author

Jerry Ryan joined the Little Brothers of Jesus in 1959. He lived and worked with them for more than two decades in Europe and South America. He and his family now live in Massachusetts.