Chaminade, Name Origins

WHAT’S IN THE NAME CHAMINADE?

– Brother John Samaha, S.M.

Over the years many have questioned the origin of the name Chaminade and if it has a meaning. Thanks to the dedicated research of Marianist scholars like Father Herbert Kramer and Father Joseph Verrier, we have documented information.

Chaminade is an old family name in southern France. From the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries we find records of persons bearing that name in or near Bordeaux. Several were monks, one an abbot, in the monastery of Ste. Croix at Bordeaux. In those old records the name La Caminada is the precursor of Chaminade. Chaminade became more common in the seventeenth century.

The Meaning of Chaminade

Various historians, archivists, and archaeologists in France have attested to the origin and meaning of the name Chaminade, which evolved from Caminade. The name means presbytery, rectory, priest’s house; because in those times few persons besides the bourgeois and the pastor owned a house with a chimney (cheminée in French). Even today in the region around Toulouse, France, the dialect term for rectory is caminade.

Many Chaminade Families in Périgueux

Most of the Chaminade families of Blessed William Joseph’s native city resided in the cathedral parish of St. Front, where our Marianist Founder was baptized and spent his early years. Mussidan, where he later studied and taught, was also home to many Chaminade families.

The majority of Chaminade bread-winners were craftsmen, such as shoemakers, tailors, gardeners, farmers, laborers. Some worked in the legal profession. Father Chaminade’s father was a window glass worker, and his grandfather was a stone worker.

Cécile Chaminade Not a Relative

For a time some thought that the celebrated composer and pianist Cécile Chaminade was a descendant of Father Chaminade’s family. But this was found to be erroneous after Father Joseph Verrier pursued the question thoroughly with one of her nieces, Mme Antoinette Chaminade Lorel, who lived in Monte Carlo.