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Saint-André-lez-Lille (Municipality, Nord, France)

Last modified: 2020-09-12 by ivan sache
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Flag of Saint-André-lez-Lille, current and former versions - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 16 July 2020, band Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 7 March 2010, respectively

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Presentation of Saint-André-lez-Lille

The municipality of Saint-André-lez-Lille (10,792 inhabitants in 2006; 316 ha; municipal website) is located a few kilometers north-west of Lille. The preposition lez means "nearby"; derived from Latin latus, "side", and often written lès or les (with possible confusion with the plural article les, "the"), this preposition has survived in modern French only in toponyms.

Saint-André was originally a parish that developed north-west of the fortified town of Lille. In 1667, Lille was reincorporated into the Kingdom of France and Vauban increased the town's fortifications; Saint-André was cut into two parts, the one incorporated into the town of Lille and the other, still a rural area, known as Saint-André hors des murs (Saint-André beyond the walls).
Saint-André hors des murs became the municipality of Saint-André during the French Revolution, its first mayor being elected on 2 February 1790. The new municipality had no longer a parish church, an oddity that was corrected only in 1848.
During the industrial revolution, several factories were built along river Deûle while rich burghers from Lille had their châteaux (manors) in Saint-André. This was reflected by the increase in the population, from 331 in 1796 to 3,500 in 1901, 5,000 in 1921 and 10,000 in 1962.

Ivan Sache, 7 March 2010

Flag of Saint-André-lez-Lille

Between at least 2012 and 2017, the flag used on the Town Hall and in twinning events (photo, photo, photo, photo) was based on the municipal logo of the time: diagonally divided light greyish blue at hoist, white at fly, with a stylized rendition of the arms, the name "Saint-André", and a French motto reading "The cool town... that wants to stay that way".

The flag used during the official ceremony of twinning with the Polish town of Wieliczka (13 January 1996, photos), is horizontally divided red-blue (2:1), with the gate of the abbey of Marquette, in yellow, in the red stripe, and three ermine cloaks, each supported by a vertical sword, in the blue stripe.
The flag is a benner of the municipal arms.

The arms of Saint-André are "Per fess, 1. Gules the gate of the abbey of Marquette or, 2. Azure three cloaks ermine per fess each supported by a sword per pale". They are first documented in 1911, which is consistent with the absence of mention of arms in Leuridan's Armorial, published in 1909.
The gate of the former abbey of Marquette, located on the municipal territory of Saint-André like several buildings of the abbey, was demolished in 1943. The Notre-Dame de la Barrière chapel was built in 1925 on the model of the abbey's gate; the chapel recalls a miracle operated by the Blessed Virgin in the 16th century, when rascals attempting to cross the "barrier" surrounding the abbey were stopped by a statue of the Virgin placed on the top of the barrier.
Founded by Joanna of Flanders in 1228, the Cistercian abbey of Marquette was suppressed during the French Revolution. The exact location of the abbey remained unknown until 2002, when the historian Benoît Chauvin identified its site, a highly contaminated waste plot belonging to the chemical company Rhodia, a finding which was confirmed by excavations (See Huit ans d'archéologie sur le site de l'abbaye de Marquette (Nord, 1998-2005), in B. Chauvin, Études d'histoire et d'archéologie cisterciennes, Bulletin du centre d'études médiévales d'Auxerre 10/2006 [full text]).
The origin of the cloaks ermine with swords featured in the lower half of the shield is unknown. The official (municipal) explanation claims, quite unconvincingly, that "the sword is the Mayor's emblem, representing valiance", while "the cloaks ermine represent stainless innocence that can be translated as the commitment to not do anything shameful".
[Municipal website (archived); Jacques Dulphy. Armorial des villes et villages de la France]

Olivier Touzeau, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 6 August 2020