Benoît-Agathon Haffreingue (1785 in
– 1871) was a French
priest based in Boulogne-sur-Mer.
He is known for having rebuilt the Cathedral of Notre Dame in
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
Francis Petre. He was appointed principal of the college in 1813 by
the Vice-chancellor of the
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
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
and Amiens, then from
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
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
valued in 1860 at 500,000
francs. Artists imported from
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
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
named him a
"protonotaire apostolic" thus according him the title of Monseigneur.
Le Petit Futé Côte d'Opale - Page 36 Jean-Paul Labourdette - 2007
Monseigneur Haffreingue (1785-1871) Benoît-Agathon
Haffreingue naît à
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 ... "
The Cathedral of Boulogne-sur-Mer
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