Barbarian Gold in southern France

Barbarian Gold in southern France

La Palme on the Via Domitia

St Pancrace, La Palme, Aude

The bones from the Visigothic graves were placed under this calvaire.
The little town of La Palme, now inland from the étang of the same name, boasts a mural which shows the town in medieval days. The town holds a celebration of the Via Domitia every August, when people dressed in Roman costume parade in the streets.
    However, it’s not accurate, because the inhabitants lived, in Roman and Visigothic days, at Les Cabanes de La Palme, which was a stopping over place, or mansio, on the Via Domitia.  When this was threatened by Muslim and other invasions, the inhabitants moved in 800 AD and founded the present site.
    If you follow the D607 south from the tiny hamlet on the N9 of Les Cabanes de La Palme, after 700 metres you will come to the chapel of St. Pancrace.  The historians tell us it was Carolingian, because the first charter mentioning it was dated 9th century.  However, Saint Pancrace was a third century martyr, and if you visit the place, now restored in a romanesque style, you will find a large modern crucifix in the grounds, or calvaire, with a plaque telling you that a Visigothic cemetary was discovered here during renovations, and all the Visigothic bones have been re-buried underneath this crucifix.
    The Romans, before they were Christianised, did not bury their dead, but the Jews and the Visigoths did.  Therefore, around the middle of the 4th century, graveyards were established outside the town walls, for hygienic purposes, and then chapels were built in the graveyards.  I have often found that the Visigothic chapels, with their graveyards, were nearly always 700 metres from the centre of habitation.
    Saint Pancrace is so beautiful, as is the chapel, hidden among parasol pines in a peaceful atmosphere.
  The chapel is open on Sunday afternoons during the summer.


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