VSJ Motto De Toute Son Ame

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
&
Juan Carlos I of Spain
at
Villa St. Jean Collège Français

Emblems of Villa St. Jean Ville de Fribourg  Canton de Fribourg and Switzerland


Villa St-Jean
Fribourg, Suisse

Editor's Note: The following content was provided by Kevin DiPalma. Thank you Kevin. The material on Juan Carlos I of Spain follows that of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.


 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
at Villa St. Jean

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY --  1900-1944

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SOURCES:
1.) Antoine de Saint-Exupery - His Life & Times, by Curtis Cate
2. ) Saint-Exupery, by Marcel Migeo
3. ) Saint-Exupery: A Biography, by Stacy Schiff

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Title: Antoine de Saint-Exupery - His Life & Times
Author: Curtis Cate
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York, 1970
Pages 31-39

 

Plaque Commemerating Antoine de Saint-Exupéry at Villa Saint Jean

The school to which Antoine and his brother were next sent was the "Villa Saint-Jean", in Fribourg.........

The country-club architecture of the Villa Saint-Jean's pavilions-with their geranium red roofs and rust-hued timberwork and balconies-paid homage to certain recent Public Schools, like Matthew Arnold's Rugby.

So did the first floor dormitories with their porcelain ewers and wash basins and their pitch-pine cubicles (forty cubicles for forty boarders, each with a bed, a bolster, and a bed table with a chamberpot in the bottom drawer). But the rest of the school owed more to the genial personality of its founder.  He was a trim little man who wore his hair short and whose chin, in the age of beards, was clean shaven. The metal-rimmed glasses which never left him could not obscure the spark of kindness in the blue, squirrel-sharp eyes; for if Father Kieffer was a firm, he was also a not unfriendly pedagogue.

He believed in a maximum of contact between teacher and pupils -- whether at the "German" or "English" tables in the refectory (where French was only supposed to be spoken with the dessert) or on the playing field, and he himself was not above swinging a racket on Sundays, hopping nimbly about the court in his soutane.

His office was always open to any boarder who had a problem on his mind or a grievance to unload, just as there were no fence or wall hemming in the school and the grounds from the surrounding suburb to which, if he really wanted to, any truant could escape.

The idea, paradoxical as it might sound, was not to impose discipline but to get it liked and thus painlessly accepted. It was summed up in the school motto, one Kieffer had adopted years before from the Chevalier Bayard: "De Toute Son Ame" (With all one's Soul), a motto Saint-Exupery later took an ironic delight in contrasting to the "Esto Vir" (Be a Man) -- the solemn Stoic maxim common to all the Jesuit schools he attended.

Situated on the airy heights of Perolles, the school pavilions looked out across the deep cut of the river to the quaint town of Fribourg, with its old burgher houses, its squat Cathedral tower, and the William Tell forts standing watch over its bridges. To the north and east, when it was clear, the snow- covered peaks of the Bernese Oberland basked dreamily beneath a crisp blue sky.

Woods full of fragrant pines and elms beckoned from just beyond the soccer field and tennis courts, and anyone who wished to could explore their meandering paths or zigzag down the steep, slope-gripping forest to the lazy green waters of the Sarine, cake-frosted in winter with ice thick enough to skate on.........

At the Villa Saint-Jean First Formers with good scholastic records were granted the coveted privilege of leaving the dormitory of "La Sapiniere" (literally the "Pine-Wood", as the House reserved for the top two forms was called) and ascending to the second floor, where they could enjoy individual rooms next door to certain masters'. If their work or their behavior deteriorated, they had to return to the dormitory, a process of forcible demotion known to the boys as "descendre du salon" -- descending from the drawing-room.......

Years after he had left Saint-Jean, Saint-Exupery could still throw a dinner table or a salon into fits of laughter by reciting Victor Hugo or Mallarme in the hob-nailed accent of the Fribourgeois.

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Title: Saint-Exupery
Author: Marcel Migeo
translated from the French by Herma Briffault
Publisher: McGraw Hill
New York 1970
Pages 16-20

 

Their mother took Antoine and his brother to Fribourg in Switzerland, where they entered the College de St.Jean.

Fribourg is a university city. Students from all over the world are drawn to its many colleges; not only are French students to be found there, but Italian and English, Hungarian, Polish, and Egyptian pupils abound, and there are even some from the Far East. The city also happens to be a stronghold of Catholicism in a country whose population is sixty-five per cent Protestant.

The College de St.-Jean, directed by the Marianist Fathers, is an aggregate of houses, very bright and clean, as are all houses in Switzerland, with gay window boxes of geraniums. Each house has its name -- "The Elms," "The Pinewoods," and so on. The cluster of houses, situated on the Perolles
plateau, overlooks the picturesque little town and the narrow gorge where flows the Sarine River.

There is no cloister. Flowering fields and calm, dark forests partially enclose the school. Here the French boys found a natural landscape, untamed by man, quite different from the rigid plantings of pruned chestnut and linden trees to which they were accustomed. At dawn the songs of birds and the fresh forest smells came into the boys' rooms through the open windows.

Discipline at this school is very relaxed; the fathers believe that young people may be brought to love discipline and that it should not be imposed upon them, that strictness leads only to a semblance of obedience, with the students trying by every means to evade rules. The fathers appeal to the students' sense of honor; conscience, they say, is God's voice within us.

The teachers live with their students, participate in their games, have informal talks with them. There are tennis courts, a football field, a swimming pool, a fencing school, and in winter the snowy slopes are used as ski runs and toboggan slides where the youngsters get their fill of invigorating air and exercise.

Everything is done to make the students feel as much at home as possible and never to feel that they are part of a herd. The lodging of boys in separate houses accomplishes much of this desired result. In addition, some pupils may occupy separate bedrooms. Antoine enjoyed this privilege, which gave him privacy for study and enabled him to surround himself with family photographs and souvenirs -- and also to smoke a cigarette or prepare a cup of hot chocolate when he liked....

Up to this time, the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery had been relatively smooth and easy; the education he received at the Villa Saint-Jean was excellent.

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Title: Saint-Exupery: A Biography
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
New York, 1995
Pages 55-62

The Saint-Exupery brothers arrived in Fribourg at the Villa Saint-Jean several weeks into the term in November 1915. Antoine entered as a twelfth-grader, for what is in France the penultimate year of secondary school education.

The Villa Saint-Jean was the only school to which we know he made a pilgrimage as an adult; it was as well the only school he would visit in his writing, facts that suggest a certain degree of attachment. "With melancholy" the narrator of Southern Mail recalled his home, "a white-gabled house among the pines, one window lighting up and then the another."

This was recognizably the Villa Saint-Jean, although Saint-Exupery's description made the handsome school sound more modest than it was; its campus was by far the most luxurious he had yet known. A tidy red-roofed village unto itself, the school overlooked the sleepy town of Fribourg; beyond its extensive playing fields lay a thick wood.

It was a trilingual institution of which half the 1,000 students were Swiss and better than half the foreigners French. No wall separated its well-kept grounds from the outside world; the prevailing sentiment was one of trust.

The Marianist school had been founded in 1903 in part as a tribute to the British public school system. It was again an institution for the privileged but it was also a liberal one, at which contact between teachers and students was frequent and warm, news of the outside world welcome (though in these years not generally happy; its alumni pool shrank considerably in World War I), and excellence rewarded with independence.

The accomplished student could, for example, aspire to a private upper-story room near the professors, a distinction to which Saint-Exupery never laid claim on academic grounds.

The school's prospectus advised its staff "not to be less attentive to the boys' 'education' than to their instruction," a lesson imported directly from Britain. Its teachers were to "relax, to humanize, the regimen of boarding school life, in order to divorce it from its worst drawbacks." The administration very much took the attitude that discipline was better instilled in its students than imposed from above, an idea that may not have met with much visible success with the young Saint-Exupery but which would get more than its due years later in his work. "I like it here," the Saint-Jean student informed his mother in a statement that could serve as an epigraph to his glory days. "It's a little severe, but everyone is imbued with a great sense of justice."

The Villa Saint-Jean was assuredly a better match than the Jesuits had been for the quixotic poet of Saint Maurice, but it was still too early for this future champion of subordination to commit entirely to the demands of academic life. Regularly he was reprimanded for failing to speak German, as was required, at the dinner table; he responded to these accusations in French.

While the German language -- and in fact all foreign languages -- would remain his undoing, he honed his Swiss accent to perfection and for years would regale friends with a singsong Fribourgeois rendition of Hugo, Mallarme, or Verlain. In the classroom he continued on his erratic way, making off with an occasional high grade in French or Latin and as commonly functioning as the lantern rouge -- idiomatically, "taillight," said of that student who literally brought up the rear -- in regular classroom work.

One report from Fribourg has Saint-Exupery excelling on the soccer field, on which he served as goalie and center forward, and at fencing, but if Saint- Jean's excellent facilities brought out this athleticism it was short-lived.  He would remain a confirmed non-sportif.

A September 1916 letter offers a glimpse into Saint-Exupery's whimsical ingenuity, as of his ability to make light of his own folly. Returning to Fribourg for the new semester, he had been smitten at the Swiss border, by the idea of traveling light: "Maman, you cannot know how pleasant it is to be as light as air, as free as the wind." Accordingly he had stored all of his belongings in his trunk which he left, with his Saint-Jean address, for its customs inspection; for he knew he could send a porter to the Swiss station to pick it up for him. On his arrival in Fribourg he ran into one of his professors, who immediately remarked on the returning student's lack of a suitcase. Saint-Exupery explained his clever arrangements with pride. "And I was congratulating myself all over again on my genius when the porter returned with the awful news: The trunk was not there!" Thenceforth he had met every train at the Fribourg station, waiting with the same hungry attention as a magpie in La Fontaine fixes on the glittering attire of a nobleman. "And each time I went back to the school with a longer face, looking stranded; I must have resembled the cast-offs in Medusa....I had nothing! Not even a shirt collar, not even a toothbrush." Several days later the trunk arrived safely.  It was not difficult to see why its owner's professors so often termed their student "un original."

At Saint-Jean he was as insulated from the war as one could have been on the Continent between 1915 and 1917; the school was rabidly pro-French, and daily communiques from the front were posted for the boys, but the only contact with the reality of the conflict came in the unmenacing form of Swiss troops, who occasionally camped on the Saint-Jean lawns during maneuvers.

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As an aside, Saint Exupéry had in his class Joseph de Miscault, a descendant of Baron de Vincent, ministre plénipotentiaire of the Habsbourgs, who worked under Napoléon.
Coincidentally, Juan Carlos I of Spain had as his Villa Director, Jean de Miscault brother of Joseph!



Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Juan Carlos I, King of Spain
Student of Villa St. Jean Collège Français

Reverend J. Langlinais S.M. informed us (Kevin DiPalma) that "curly-haired grade school kid" he knew at Villa St. Jean in the 1940s is now King Juan Carlos of Spain.

The excerpt from the Charles Powell's biography entitled, Juan Carlos of Spain: Self-made Monarch provides information about Juan Carlos' stay at Villa St. Jean.

______________________________________________________________________
Juan Carlos of Spain: Self-made Monarch
St. Martin's Press, Inc., (1996)
by Charles Powell

Page 9

In January 1946 he duly became a border at Villa Saint-Jean a school run by the Marianists Fathers at Fribourg and attended mainly by French children. The boy, who felt that his parents had abandoned him in the company of complete strangers, was extremely unhappy at fist, but his misery was partly alleviated by the proximity of his doting grandmother who saw him every weekend. Juan Carlos did not speak Spanish fluently at this stage, and Victoria Eugenia (or 'Gangan,' as her grandchildren called her), who had suffered considerably in Spain on account of her English accent, was so anxious to ensure that her grandson was spared her embarrassment that she spent many an hour giving him phonetic exercise to improve his pronunciation. Juan Carlos's teachers at Villa Saint-Jean remember him as a child of normal intelligence and exceptional physical stature and beauty, who badly needed disciplining after spending too much time in the company of indulgent nannies.

The political climate in Spain was such that the prince's tutors were instructed to destroy any edible presents he might receive from well-wishers lest they be poisoned. Don Juan became increasingly uneasy at having left Juan Carlos behind in Switzerland, and in early 1947 he was finally allowed to rejoining his parents in Estoril. The prince was accompanied by Vegas, to whom he had become genuinely attached, in spite of the latter's intransigence. After attending a lecture of his on the ultra-conservative thinker Donoso Cortés, a liberal Catalan priest jokingly warned Don Juan that with such a tutor his son might turn out to be a new Phillip II., a remark that Vegas took as a compliment.....


Page 10

.......Unhappy with the ad hoc arrangements he had been forced to make for Juan Carlos's schooling in Portugal, in late 1947 Don Juan decided that he should return to Fribourg under the supervision of Vegas.

Page 11

As the summer of 1948 drew to a close, Don Juan began to have grave doubts as to whether he should go through with the plan agreed with Franco and send his son to Spain after all. In early October he sent him back to school in Switzerland with Vegas, with the excuse of allowing him some time with his grandmother, Victoria Eugenia, who feared she would see less of him in the future. Unable to obtain further concessions from Franco, however, Don Juan recalled his son later that month, and by early November he was ready to travel to Spain.

Juan Carlos fist set foot on Spanish soil on 9 November 1948, on a bitterly cold Castilian morning, at the age of ten............

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His Majesty the King, Juan Carlos I.

JUAN CARLOS DE BORBON Y BORBON was born on January 5th, 1938 in Rome, where the Royal Family was living at that time, having had to leave Spain when the Republic was proclaimed in 1931. His father, Don Juan de Borbon y Battenberg, Count of Barcelona and Head of the Spanish Royal Household ever since King Alfonso XIII had relinquished this status, and his mother, Dona Maria de las Mercedes de Borbon y Orleans.

At the express wish of his father, he was educated in Spain, which he visited for the first time at the age of ten. In 1954 he completed his Baccalaureate at the San Isidro School in Madrid, and in 1955 began his studies at the Academies and Military Colleges of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. During this time he carried out his practice voyage as a midshipman on the training ship Juan Sebastian Elcano and qualified as a military pilot. In 1960.61 he completed his education at Madrid's Complutense University, where he studied constitutional and international law, economics and taxation.

On May 14th, 1962, he married Princess Sofia of Greece, the eldest daugther of King Paul I and Queen Federika, in Athens. After their honeymoon, the Prince and Princess went to live at the Palacio de la Zarzuela, on the outskirts of Madrid, which is still their residence. In 1963 the first of their three children, Princess Elena, was born, followed, two years later, by Princess Cristina and finally, in 1968, by Prince Felipe.

After his designation as future succesor to the Head of State in 1969, he embarked on a series of official activities, touring Spain and visiting many foreign countries, including France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States, Japan, China and India.

On the death of the previous Head of State, Francisco Franco, Juan Carlos was proclaimed King on November 22nd, 1975. In his first message to the nation he expressed the basic ideas of his reign, to restore democracy and become King of all Spaniards, without exception.

The transition to democracy, under the guidance of a new Government, began with the Law on Politicial Reform in 1976. In May 1977, the Count of Barcelona trasnferred to the King his dinasty rights and his position as head of the Spanish Royal Household, at a ceremony which confirmed the fulfilment of the role incumbent on the Crown on the Crown in the restoration of democracy. A month later the first democratic election sice 1936 was held and the new parliament drafted the text of the current Constitution, approved in a referendum on December 6th, 1978.

The Constitution establishes as the form of government of the Spanish State that of a parliamentary monarchy, in which the King is the arbiter and overseer of the proper working of the institutions. By giving the royal assent to this Constitution, King Juan Carlos expressly proclaimed his firm intention to abide by it and serve it. In fact, it was the actions of the Monarch that saved the Constitution and democracy during the night of February 23rd. 1981, when the constitutional powers had been retained in the Parliament building in an attempted coup.

In the course of 18 years the King has toured Europe, Latin America, the United States and Canada, the Arab countries, Israel, China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and many countries in black Africa. He has also addressed many international organizations: the United Nations, the institutions of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, UNESCO, the International Labour Organization and the Arab League.

The King has encouraged a new style in conducting relations with Latin America, emphasizing the identifying features of a cultural community based on a common language, and pointing out the need to generate common initiatives and take part in suitable kinds of cooperative activity. The countries of that area have shown great generosity in agreeing on the need to create a permanent framework capable of expressing this new situation, setting objectives and organizing programmes and specific lines of action. This is the rationale behind the Latin American Conferences, the first of which was held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1991.

As a convinced European, and a winner of the Charlemagne Award in 1982, Juan Carlos delivers insistent reminders of Spain s European calling throughout its history. The importance of the European union in the contemporary world and in particular in the areas which are most akin to it, including Latin America, has been stressed by the King in many messages, such as the one he gave at the French National Assembly in 1993.

King Juan Carlos, who pays constant attention to the world of intellectual developments and its capacity for innovation, has a special relationship with universities, both in Spain and abroad, where he has had conferred upon him honorary doctorates by the most renowned centers, including the Universities of Bologna, Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard, amongst many others. He is also an associate member of the Institut de France and the American Philosophical Society. As honorary chairman of COTEC, a Spanish Foundation for technological innovation, King Juan Carlos gives his personal support to this fundamental activity on the threshold of the 21st century.

He also pays special attention to the future of the Spanish language, the heritage of the community of Spanish speakers. The King is honorary president of the Board of Trustees of the Cervantes Institute, which is dedicated to the dissemination of the Spanish language worldwide, and the Foundation in support of the Royal Accademy, to whose setting up in 1993 he contributed out of his own personal patrimony.

As a keen practitioner of several sports, such as skiing and sailing, Juan Carlos supports and appreciates sport as a formative influence of unquestionable social value. The presence of the King and Queen and their encouragement of the Spanish Olympic teams during the Games in Barcelona in 1993 attest to the importance which Juan Carlos attaches to this activity.




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