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L'Ordre, its origins
and its history

Let us imagine  Paris after the second world war, following a long period of restriction due to the Occupation, the wine, one of the greatest national products,  was very slowly reappearing on the tables and in the wine houses. But what wine! More and more frauds and other scandals concerning the wine were exposed in the newspapers.

Despite everything, there were some privileged and rare places where good wine could still be found. There was one, in the “Quartier Latin”, hidden at the bottom of a very small street, la rue DUPUYTREN, near the Faculty of Medicine of Paris.

It was a small wine house - a few square meters-  with a  several floor cellar built in the stone, concealing a treasure of old bottles and everybody marvelled at how these bottles had survived the storm of occupation without damage . Everywhere, the provisioning remained difficult, but there, the oak barrels of two vineyards, Vouvray and Morgon, arrived regularly.

It was a confidential address. Only initiates were allowed there because the iron curtain of the shop-window was often lowered.  If an intruder dared to venture there, ha was asked "  to go on the Boulevard, because it is special here  ". One could taste pork-butcheries made by the owner, sprinkled with Vouvray or Morgon wine, and sometimes, with an old dusty bottle. That depended on the mood of the owner,  "father" RYE, a robust 60 year-old man with a proud moustache.

Among the regular customers - doctors, professors of the Medical Faculty, some industrialists, lawyers, journalists, tradesmen and caretakers of the district- a peculiar person could be noticed:  a person who had a sizeable character, a high stature, a stentorian voice, an imposing white beard, a black cape and a painter hat. He behaved like a patriarch and seemed to have a great prestige.

Comte Jean-Paul Mariage EUDES DE SAINT PIERREHis name was Comte Jean-Paul Mariage EUDES DE SAINT PIERRE, a former pupil of the School of Chartes, a great genealogist, an epicurean of the medieval history and large amateur of good wine and good food.

This scholar of the wine never  stopped vituperating against the adulterated and mechanized wines, and praising the merits of the " vin vray " (real wine) such as the one served to him in that exceptional almost out of time place.

One day, our man discovered in the National Library, in the Acta Sanctorum of Bollandistes, a forgotten martyrdom: Saint Bacchus. What a discovery! He was exactly the Saint to launch a crusade in favour of the "vin vray" and the vine growers against the mechanized wines and the chemists who manufactured them.

The learned assembly of the street DUPUYTREN was informed of the discovery, approved of  the project, and while taking as a starting point the  Orders of knighthood of the Middle Ages, wrote  the Holy Rule of a new order baptized: " Ordre Hospitalier Curieux et Courtois des Chevaliers de Saint Bacchus " (Hospitable, Curious and Courteous Order of the Knights of Saint Bacchus). Somebody drew the arms of the Order, somebody else established its slogan and its rallying cry:


Par Saint Bacchus, Aymons nous ! "

The Duke of BEAUFFREMONT COURTENAY was the first president of the Order. He distributed the honorary titles to accustomed members and to the friends. A friend of the Comte of Saint Pierre, the Abbot Nestor DELETOILE, priest of Fruges in the Pas-de-Calais was promoted to the rank of Chapelain (priest) of the Order. He left an imperishable memory in its parish and went to  the street DUPUYTREN each time he was in Paris.

After several years of discussion, everything was ready. The Order was inaugurated on October 7th , 1949. The Abbot Nestor DELETOILE celebrated a mass in the Church of Saint German l'Auxerrois in PARIS and the first Chevaliers (knights) were enrolled.

For several years the Order organized a chapter, each year at the saint's day of Saint Bacchus,  the same day as Saint Serge, October 7th . Without any means except his persuasion, the Comte of Saint Pierre recruited a hundred Ecuyers (equerries) on which he imposed a long probationary period to become a Chevalier (Knight). In 1953, our previous Grand Maître, Jean BRUNAUD , was recruited as Ecuyer (equerry). He became Chevalier (Knight) in 1960. It was only in 1957, that, on his advice, the Comte of Saint Pierre gave a legal existence to the Order, by declaring it at the office of associations of the Prefecture of Police in Paris. The Order appeared in the Official Journal of May 25th  1957.

The majority of the founders - deceased or sick- had been replaced. The continuity had been ensured by the tireless Comte de Saint Pierre.

A few year before, he had taken his stick of pilgrim and had travelled across  the countries of vineyards. He had created the Commanderie of Champagne, Bourgogne, Provence and Bordeaux. But because they lacked a solid structure, they had only one transitory existence.  In the same way, he went to Belgium, a country where the Order was to make great progress thereafter, and he created the Commanderie of LIEGE.

Slowly, new knights came to the Order but its size did not grow because of the death of the oldest members. Nevertheless the Grand Maître held a weekly meeting each Tuesday in Paris with a certain success. Unthinkable now! He multiplied the chapters and the friendly meetings around the wine and of the gastronomy until September 1st  1966 when he disappeared brutally, at the age of 95 years, after a good dinner with the Grand Echanson of the Order. Commandeur d'Ambonnay, Messire Gaston BREMONT

The Order could have disappeared. The board of directors named in 1957 had not been renewed and was decimated by the disease or the death of the majority of its members. Fortunately, a few months later the Commander of Ambonnay, Messire Gaston BREMONT who had been named honorary for this reason , undertook  to continue the task and to assume the succession.

Everything was rebuilt because the founder had little been concerned with the administration of the Order.

The Order was then reorganized with the administrative formalities, and regular general assemblies to ensure its management. The ceremonial of the chapter,  a collective work, was devised and has remained immutable since.  The behaviour of the dignitaries was defined. The order was structured at the same time as it took an enormous extension in Belgium and as various attempts at establishing it were  made in Germany, in Japan, in Hungary and Sicily, unforunately not to last. On the other hand the Connétablies founded in Belgium, England and in Canada are always present and quite active.

On  Novembre 25th 1989, the Grand Maître Gaston BREMONT, 82 years old,  transmitted his competence to Messire Jean BRUNAUD.

The new Grand Maître has tried to maintain the activity of the Order, to preserve the traditions and all the rites while modernizing them, by instituting a more rigorous management, by decentralizing it on the Commanderies which have a significant role and while giving to the ladies who wish it, the responsibility they had been denied until then.  The great concern of the Grand Maître and his council was to ensure the perenniality of the Order. That is what we seek to establish everywhere as awell as to make us known  and to find devoted people  to help us.


These last few years, two questions were put ex abrupto to the Grand Maître Jean Brunaud during very serious conversations.

The first emanated from a General to whom he  had presented our Order and who asked him:

" what is the use of your Ordre ? "

The Grand Maître answered him:

" it does not have any use, except giving us a certain pleasure, to be among genuine people,  to spend one pleasant moment without concern in front of a good table and good wines, to disguise ourselves sometimes and to create a small illusion. Nothing but to help us forget the sadness and the selfishness of our contemporaries. "

Why do we always have to find a use to everything?  Dream and imagination are also part of our life.

More than fifty years ago, on the basis of an original idea germinated in the brain of a jovial fellow, our order succeeded in gathering people from all horizons and all conditions, in the same knightly spirit under the pretext of the defense of the " vin vray ", but in fact maybe more for the sake of the festival and the friendship.

It would be a pity not to continue this adventure.

The second question came from an ecclesiastic at the end of a mass in which dignitaries of the Order had taken part. Seeing their title of " Chevaliers of Saint Bacchus ", he said to our Grand Maître:

" Hey, he is a funny Saint your guy! "

Ignorantus Ignorantum!

Continuing his reforms in order to assure the perenniality of the Order, the Grand Maître Jean Brunaud summoned a general assembly for November 30, 2002 during which he presents his resignation, after 14 years of work devoted to reinforce the structure of the Order and to contribute to its vitality.

During this assembly  two decisions of organization are made:

  •  the creation of the Conseil International de l'Ordre ( International Council of the Order ) chaired by the Grand Maitre and who assists him in the direction of the Order

  • the creation the Grande Connétable de France, as well as in England, Belgium and Canada.

Messire Michel Graviassy, old Grand Connétable de l’Ordre, elected by this same assembly, became the fourth Grand Maître.

Messire Jean-Edouard Péru became the first Grand Connétable of France.

L’Ordre Hospitalier Curieux et Courtois des Chevaliers de Saint Bacchus, who is French thus gives himself mode of organization in harmony with his international establishment.

The actions which the new Grand Maître wishes to take:

  • to contribute, through this new organization, to the reinforcement of the friendly bonds between the members of different Grandes Connétablies and to the division from a strong common identity by demonstrations which gather them

  • to capitalize the oral history of the Order to keep of it hard copy with the service of the generations to come.

Michel Graviassy, in the capacity as Grand Chambellan then as Grand Connétable of the Order worked with the Grand Maître Emérite Jean Brunaud and knew during a few years his predecessor the Grand Maître Emérite Gaston Brémond. But it is indeed the first in this function which did not know the founder and for this reason it feels the pressing need to write the past with those which are among us to testify it.

 

Updated 10 March 2005
by the Grand Maître
Michel Graviassy

Copyright © 2005