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Circle Genealogic and Historic Champanellois

Association "Law 1901" of Saint-Genès-Champanelle, 63 , France

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From which does the name come of our commune ?

One of the best French specialists in onomastics, disciplines gathering toponymy [ place names ] and the anthroponymy [ proper names people ], Albert DAUZAT, proposed to us already in 1951, in its "Dictionnaire des noms et prénoms de France" appeared at the Larousse editions an attempt at response as for the origin of the names of cities naming Saint-Genès.

For him, there would have been two saints :

  • a martyr in Rome under the Dioclétien emperor

  • another which was an archbishop of Lyon to VIIth century.

He points that the orthography was often confused with that of the broom [ Saint-Genest ] as shows it namesof localities of Massif Central, even of the Marne and the Vosges.

Albert DAUZAT advances another possible origin which would come from a spanish word "genet" concerning the qualifier of a horse, known as of XIVth century..

The term "champanelle" in occitan, means "mis en charpie" (put in charpie) what would accredit the origin of a martyr Saint-Genès in Rome.

One living of Theix proposed a different explanation to us : at one unspecified time, in order to differenciate our parish and thet from Saint-Genès-des-Carmes (Saint-Genès-of-Carmelite), one added the term "Champanelle" wanting to say "des champs" (fields) as old french, in order to underline their difference, Saint-Genès-des-Carmes (Saint-Genès-of-Carmelite) friars being an urban parish in the heart of Clermont-Ferrand.

A different university French, philosophical and theologist of international fame, Jacques ELLUL put forth another assumption when at the origin of the toponym of our commune :

Into his work "La subversion du christianisme" (the subversion of the Christianity) published in 1984 at the editions of the Seuil in the collection Empreintes, page 50, he advances the idea that at the time of the installation of the worship at the end of the Gallo-Roman era, the Christians "ont récupéré" (have recovered) the pagan beliefs in order to be better accepted by the populations.

Extrait : "Un fait bien connu a été l'adoption par l'église de petits dieux locaux qu'il était impossible d'évacuer de la piété quotidienne. Aussi le saint Genis, Geniès, Genès, etc., n'est autre que le petit Genius local, le dieu du lieu où on habite, qui nous protège quotidiennement. On ne pouvait y faire renoncer les populations hâtivement christianisées, alors on a préféré le baptiser, en faire un saint reconnu par l'Eglise."

Extract : "a well-known fact was the adoption by the church of small local gods who it was impossible to evacuate of daily piety. Also saint Genis, Geniès, Genès, etc., is not other than small local Genius, the god of the place where one lives, who protects us daily. One could not make there give up the hastily les populations hâtivement christianized, then one preferred to baptize it, make of it a saint recognized by the Church."

Like in the case of Laschamps, an artistic blur reigns as for the exact orthography of this toponym.
We contacted the Académie Française which answered that according to commonly allowed French rules'in the dictionaries of proper names, this one should be written with two indents but the practice, especially by the DDE (Direction Départementale de l'Equipement), was taken to put only one on the road traffic signs of them. What somatimes gives [Saint-Genès Champanelle] to see [Saint Genès-Champanelle].

The practices are difficult to change, the municipality itself, in cover of its bulletins uses an orthography with only one indent. Certain bulletins used a toponym without indent to see even only one indent between Genès and Champanelle.

last update on April 30, 2002

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old postcards of the commune 153
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Gordon Bennett Cup 74

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