He will be called Bienvenu
Pierre Bienvenu Noailles was born in Bordeaux on 27 October 1793 during the Reign of Terror that followed the French Revolution. He was baptised that same day in the cathedral that was shortly to become a depot of animal fodder for the army. Most of the churches were closed; the revolutionary tribunal had condemned hundreds of Bordeaux people to death; the guillotine set up in the centre of the town was worked to full capacity. The priests were deeply divided on the question of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which defined their new position in the state. Some took the oath while others refused, sometimes paying with their lives.
In contrast to this atmosphere of violence, the Noailles family welcomed an eighth child into a haven of gentleness. The name he got spoke volumes about the warmth of affection with which he was surrounded. He was indeed “Bienvenu”, the “Welcome One”, in his parents home because three children born before him had died. Shortly after, a brother and sister came to enlarge the family circle once more.
So it was that Pierre Bienvenu made his entry into the unstable world of his time, but he was rich in the security and love his family gave him. Daring, self-willed, enterprising, he dominated his brothers and sisters. But his warm heart, his goodness, the liveliness of his intelligence made him a sincerely lovable child. He was always open to others and no one could resist his charms.
Pierre Bienvenu was six and a half at the beginning of the 19th century. He was to live through three quarters of it. His life evolved in a town and a church undermined by the Revolution. He grew up in a christian family but he got no real religious instruction. His father and uncle were associates in a grain business and they, like many other business people, were ruined. The comfort of the early days gave way to times of strict economy and Bienvenu went to work about the age of 14.