Le sanctuaire de Notre-Dame de Château-Verdun
On the afternoon of Sunday, June 23rd1, we took a lovely walk into woods adjacent to the Château to explore our surroundings and take a few photos. We happened upon a small chapel, to which the following typewritten note, in a plastic sheet protector, was attached to the door.2:
The sanctuary of Our Lady of Château-Verdun, modest and poor in appearance, is one of the most venerable of the Ariège by its antiquity. It is believed that the choir and belfry date back to the 12th century.
The historical memories attached to this humble church only add to its prestige. Located halfway up a rock, crowned by the ruins of the former castle of the Barons of Château-Verdun, this castle dominated, along the banks of the Aston river, one of the busiest passages in the Middle Ages, leading to Andorra by the [mountain] pass of the Fontargentes. The old castle was effectively destroyed during the Wars of Religion.
Successor to the Barons of Château-Verdun, the Marquis de Gudanes, builds himself more comfortable and sumptuous home on a nearby rock, standing above the Aston River, whilst dominating the Ariège valley. This seigniorial residence is separated from the old castle by a low-lying area, where it overshadows the graceful village of Château-Verdun. Of this distant past, only a few [castle] walls remain. The old Catalan forges themselves were transformed to meet the metallurgic needs of the early twentieth century - and closed around 1950.
All that has survived from this past is this humble chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. With its simple choir and belfry, this chapel brings us back to the distant Middle Ages. One might recall, during the renaissance, its rich Spanish altar. Alas… this work of art was taken in a fire around 1876 - a temporary terra cotta altar, put in its place. The generosity of a pious person allowed the restoration of the chapel. The belfry has received a small bell and, above its pediment, stands a graceful statue of the Virgin that seems to extend its protection to the village of Château-Verdun and the Aston Valley.
Sincere apologies to my wonderful family at Gudanes for my tardiness in completing this translation, it’s long overdue.↩
N.B., For those linguo-purists out there, this isn’t a literal translation of the orgiginal text — it’s contextual. I have tried, as I always do, to translate the source text _verbatim wherever possible; I did take a few liberties (insomuch that I chose to translate colloquialisms, as appropriate, and apply regional context) to make the text more understandable for the non-Ariègeois. I do hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed translating it.↩