Crètzillan was an old skinflint who lived five centuries ago in the pretty village of Grandvillard. The people of the village were a happy lot, they enjoyed their fun and games, but they were also pious and went to Mass devotedly. Crètzillan was an exception.
He took off to Mass like everyone else but was the last to leave. During the service, he spent his time sitting contentedly at the edge of the forest from where he could see the new village and the church above. When Mass was over, he sauntered down to the village and was the first back.
One winter night, it was his turn to meet his Maker. He was in anguish, suffocating. Neighbors raced off to fetch the priest to administer the final rites but when the priest arrived, Crètzillan was already unconscious. He died without receiving Extreme Unction. On the day of his burial, four men were carrying his coffin up to the cemetery. As they passed his favorite place on the edge of the forest, the coffin suddenly became so heavy they could no longer carry it. They put it down. Others came to help but no-one could lift it again, it seemed to have taken root. Finally, they dug a hole on the spot and lowered the coffin into it.
Crètzillan was buried at the very place he had defied the Almighty and from that day on his ghost haunted the whole area with its distressing, mournful cry : "Had I but known... I want to be properly buried... properly buried...had I but known..."
People were worried, unhappy. They took to throwing earth onto his sad burial place as they went to Mass. It piled into a small mound but the doleful laments continued. An attempt was made to dig down to find his bones in order to provide a proper burial, but no bones were found.
A great wooden cross was placed on the mound. It helped a little, but the sepulchral cries continued to disturb the countryside at intervals. Finally, a religious procession, led by the priest, consecrated the site and the haunted spirit of old Crètzillan could, at long last, rest in peace.
Thematic route :
A Country of Legends
Marie-Alexandre Bovet, from "les légendes de la Gruyère", Editions Gruériennes, 2004