Baptismal express

As usual our life here in France is going along at breakneck speed. We just got back from a sun and sand and paellla filled week “vacation rental swapping” on the Spanish Coast. We were scrambling to catch up with work, laundry, and cleaning our house, which, not having been left in the tidiest of states, closely resembled a nuclear testing site.

In the midst of all this it dawned on us that although we had coordinated all the dates with the family members and planned a big celebration of Camille’s baptism on May 25th (no small feat) during my parents’ visit from Canada, we had somehow forgotten to find a priest to perform the ceremony.

This is actually our second attempt to have Camille’s baptism – we had planned a similar celebration when Camille was five months old and we were visiting France. Everything was organised down to the “dragets” – the little sugared almonds that are traditionally given away as party favours. The only problem was that the night before the appointed day Camille came down with terrible case of the measles.

So, following the protocal of the paroisse, three days ago Franck held his breath and crossed his fingers for good luck and called the priest directly responsible for our village. The priest asked Camille’s age and when Franck informed him that she was now four he poo’d poo’d the idea of baptising her at all. Apparently in his books four isn’t an appropriate age to be baptised – it’s far better to wait until the child is eight, for some random, unexplained reason. This phone call left me grumbling ominously about how the Catholic church was hardly in a position to start rejecting people interested in joining given their current demographic problems, mutter, mutter mutter…

Undaunted, Franck called Pere Frot, the priest who officiated our marriage and Charlotte’s baptism, and, who, incidentally, Franck accompanied on a Calvados-fueled church trip through Normandy several years ago.

Pere Frot was our first choice any way, so we were thrilled when he said that bien sur he could do it, and why didn’t we come down to Nuits-Saint-Georges, which is his paroisse, that very afternoon to discuss it further.

He has always proven himself to be a great priest – accomodating, inclusive, flexible (agreeing at the last minute to have our whole wedding ceremony translated blow-by-blow into English by my bilingual friend Emmy who had just arrived from Oxford) and down to earth. He obviously feels very strongly about his beliefs, but in a way that radiates outwards instead of excluding or judging others. It also doesn’t hurt that he has a certain Gerard Depardieu’esque appeal – more than one female guest at our wedding expressed curiosity about what was underneath his cassock.

So it looks as though Pere Frot has saved the day once again. We’re meeting with him again tonight to go over the details of the ceremony, and now our menu planning for Camille’s baptism on May 25th can begin in earnest.