Open during the tourist season, the Halte des Zouaves is the perfect place to discover the history of Piopolis. The term "zouave" refers to the battalion of volunteers responsible for defending the Papal States against Italy between 1860 and 1870. It seems a long way off, but it is to these soldiers that we owe the foundation of Saint-Zénon de Piopolis , which in Greek means "city of the pope".
In Canada, it was Monsignor Ignace Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, who participated in the recruitment of the Canadian Zouaves and who, in 1868, founded the Quebec order of the Pontifical Zouaves by setting up a first contingent of 133 Zouaves. They were men of exemplary morality, often cultured, good Catholics, and ready to die in battle.
Many Canadian Zouaves took part in the great movement and they were mostly from Quebec province. When the Canadian Zouaves left for Italy, Monsignor Bourget celebrated a mass in their honor and gave each of them a medal or a relic of Saint Zenon, a Roman soldier converted to Christianity. They therefore left Montreal on February 1, 1868 for Italy. The nuns of Providence had carefully made the military clothes of the Quebec Zouaves.
Despite the fact that they were ready to fight, very few Canadian Zouaves had the opportunity to measure themselves against the adversary. No Canadian died in this war which ended in September 1870 with the defeat of the papal troops and the disappearance of the Papal States. Our Canadian Zouaves were therefore repatriated and returned safe and sound after several setbacks, storms, hurricanes and illnesses.
At the Zouaves stop, you will find several archives that will allow you to learn more about the subject and the history of Piopolis.