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Benoît-Agathon Haffreingue (1785 in Audinghen
Audinghen
– 1871) was a French priest based in Boulogne-sur-Mer.[1] He is known for having rebuilt the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Boulogne-sur-Mer
Boulogne-sur-Mer
as a result of what he believed was a call from God. Haffreingue was the principal of a private Jesuit boarding school for boys (now known as "Le collège Haffreingue-Chanclaire") in the town which included among it former students the New Zealand
New Zealand
architect Francis Petre. He was appointed principal of the college in 1813 by the Vice-chancellor of the Academy
Academy
of Douai, he remained in this position until his death in 1871. Haffreingue was born in the rural hamlet of Haringzelles, today a ruin. He was baptized at Audinghen
Audinghen
on July 4, 1785. He was the son of François and Marie-Catherine Hamerel, his father was an agricultural labourer. His early life is unknown, he obviously received a Jesuit education, and was ordained a priest sometime before 1813, the year he was appointed to the Jesuit school in Boulogne-sur-Mer. In 1820, Haffreingue was walking past the derelict ruins of the old cathedral, destroyed during the French revolution, close to the school when he believed he received a call from God to rebuild the edifice. Acting on the call with money given by the families of his pupils, he bought the ground and the remains of the cathedral and built a small chapel for the college. A few months later a benefactor donated 48,000 French francs for further reconstruction, this sum was later doubled. With this money Haffreingue constructed in front of the new chapel a renaissance style rotunda for use as a public church, this further construction seems to have been the catalyst for an unprecedented wave of fund-raising. Money for the cathedral's reconstruction poured in from all over France, and England. The cathedral once again became a place of pilgrimage, with visitors at first coming from Abbeville
Abbeville
and Amiens, then from Belgium
Belgium
and England. The donations continued to pour in: the Emperor Napoleon III gave a gift of 1,000 francs, and also bestowed on Haffreingue the Legion of Honour. The design of the reconstructed cathedral was said to have been inspired by St Paul's cathedral
St Paul's cathedral
in London, however this in turn was inspired by the great renaissance cathedrals if Italy. One of the greatest gifts to the reconstruction project was that of 147 different marbles donated by the Prince of Torlonia
Torlonia
valued in 1860 at 500,000 francs. Artists imported from Rome
Rome
worked on the decoration of the cathedral for over ten years, while a further 160 labourers worked towards the final completion. The cathedral became the life's work of Haffreingue, it was his ambition that the church would be a meeting point for both the Catholic and Protestant
Protestant
communities. Remaining all his life a modest man, he erected a plaque above the gate to the cathedral reading "A Domino factum is" (tr. The work of the Lord). In 1859 in recognition of his work Pope Pius IX
Pius IX
named him a "protonotaire apostolic" thus according him the title of Monseigneur. References[edit]

^ Le Petit Futé Côte d'Opale - Page 36 Jean-Paul Labourdette - 2007 "Hommes d'Eglise Monseigneur Haffreingue (1785-1871) Benoît-Agathon Haffreingue naît à Audinghen
Audinghen
dans une famille de laboureurs aisés. Se sentant appelé au sacerdoce à l'âge de 20 ans, il fait ses études au séminaire de Saint-Sulpice à ... "

External links[edit]

The Cathedral of Boulogne-sur-Mer

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 59395584 ISNI: 0000 0000 0232 3808 BNF: cb1553