Many assume that the idea of égalité in France was born during the French revolution, but there was once (not upon a time) a rebel and feminist princess Sainte Enimie who blazed her own destiny through leprosy and right up to her burial site. Her name was Enimie and she was one of Merovigian kings’, Clothar II, daughters.
As legend has it
She was one of the most beautiful princesses and being such, had many would-be suitors. Instead of becoming heady with the pursuit of marriage, she preferred to be in service to the church and taking care of the ill, mainly patients with leprosy. When she was of marriageable age, she called upon a witch to help her avoid marriage and make her disfigured by giving her leprosy. Thus, she was saved from marriage.
Later, she was called by an angel to visit the fountain of Burle , the name of St. Enimie village before the middle ages was Burlatis. There she was to bathe and be cured of leprosy. Listening to the angel she bathed and was cured, but upon returning to her father’s kingdom, the leprosy returned. After several failed attempts at leaving the village she sent word to her father that she would not return and would live out her life in Gevaudan, the historical name for Lozère.
At first, she lived in a cave, bathing in the waters of the Burle and inviting others with leprosy to do the same. She then built a monastery inviting all to come and be cured by the healing waters that she had discovered. St. Enimie dedicated her life to service in her village with her chosen calling. It was her wish to be buried in the village she had lived, but as she was of royal blood it was ordained that she be buried in the royal family’s tombs in St Denis Cathedral (near Paris).
When it came time for her burial, the nuns of the monastery had no misgivings about sending the remains of one of St. Enimie’s servants to be buried in the royal tomb while the Merovingian princess was laid to rest in the village that would soon be named after her.
The Sainted Princess
Later the village of Burlatis, was renamed for it’s patron saint, feminist Princess Sainte Enimie. She was the Merovingian-era princess, who lived and died on her terms – seeking a higher calling and being in service to those who needed it most.
Truth in the legend
In recent years, hydrologists have come to the region to investigate the mysteries of St. Enimie’s Burle. They have found that it’s waters are rich in copper salts, giving it an ethereal turquoise color that it boosts today. While the water is too rich in minerals to drink, the high copper content helps to cure burns, skin lesions and improves open wound healing. Though swimming isn’t allowed in the Burle, there are steps down to the spring so visitors can fill up a bottle with these healing waters and take them home as a natural remedy. The burle naturally flows into the Gorges du Tarn river, adding to the magic and mystery of this legendary part of southern France.
If you’d like to visit Ste. Enimie and other amazing sites in Southern France, reach out and we can create the perfect Faculty-led Study Abroad program for you in rural France.