Live joyfully, live Rabelais!
On Wednesday, March 8, students, doctors, staff and friends of the University gathered at the Jardin des plantes to inaugurate the restored Rabelais monument. This was an opportunity for the Montpellier Rifle Association to reaffirm its affiliation with the French writer, a former student of the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier, but also with his philosophy summed up in the famous formula: "Live joyfully!
About twenty of them stand out among the small crowd that slips into the Montpellier plant garden on this foggy morning of March 8. Proudly wearing their faluche, the carabins and carabines of Montpellier have their eyes riveted on the Rabelais monument, their monument, finally restored thanks to the support of the University, the Faculty of Medicine, and the inescapable Fondation d'entreprises du Jardin des plantes, which has been kind enough to accompany them in this project with a high emotional and symbolic value. This monument was inaugurated 102 years ago and this thought of Rabelais still says a lot about the students of Montpellier," said Camille Pelissier, president of the Montpellier Rifle Association. It is the very substance of our folklore and values that we pass on year after year and that are so dear to us. "
To the folklore of the carabins
And if this folklore remains for the most part a matter for the initiated, the students present that morning do not hesitate to share their memories of " carabinage ". A ceremony that brings together each year at the foot of the monument, the aspiring carabins who have reached the end of their second year for their induction into the corporation. The custom is that after taking the oath, each student takes a photo on the back of the sculpture where appears, engraved in stone, the famous maxim of the writer: " Live happily ". " We do difficult studies," continues Camille Pelissier, "it's important for us to insist on this celebration of life's pleasures. "
In 1921, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier, the Carabins commissioned the sculptor Jacques Villeneuve to create this work, which he named "En vin vérité" (In Truthful Wine). Under the bust of Rabelais which overhangs the monument, the faces of Pantagruel and Gargantua frame a bas-relief representing a scene taken from a farce written and played at the time by Rabelais on the rue de la Loge. In the foreground, an allegory of the Faculty of Medicine in the guise of a woman in professorial dress is bending over the Aphorisms of Hippocrates translated into Greek by Rabelais. Finally, on the right, a Carabinian student faces Rabelais and holds a cup of wine in his right hand.
The cup is full again
A cup that had mysteriously disappeared in the meanders of history and that this restoration brings back from the past. " Missing pieces are normally part of the history of the monument, it would never occur to anyone to add the missing parts of the Venus de Milo, but with this bowl there was a sense of restoration " explains Pierre-Jean Trabon, heritage architect who led this restoration with the approval of the Drac. We participated in all the meetings of the site," continues Camille Pelissier. The meaning of this monument is transmitted from generation to generation, we had the knowledge of details that were not known by the architects. Details that the cleaning of the stone invaded by vegetation but also the repointing of the stones and the redevelopment of the surroundings reveal again in all its beauty.
And it is to celebrate this newfound beauty and the certainty that generations of students will continue to celebrate the Rabelaisian art of living that the Carabins and Carabines of Montpellier ended this ceremony with a cup in hand to accompany the words of their president:
" Friends carabins before our master to all François Rabelais let us raise our glass with him and above all never forget to live joyfully! "