Benoit Haffreingue

Benoit Haffreingue

Benoit Haffreingue

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Benoit Agathon Haffreingue (1785 - 1871) was a French priest based in Boulogne-sur-Mer. He is known for having rebuilt the Cathedral of Notre Dame in 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 architect Francis Petre. He was appointed principal of the college in 1813 by the Vice-chancellor of the 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 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. ...
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