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Modern France

Gallery: Churches of Brittany

by Peter Kessler, 29 August 2010

 

 

Finistere Part 1: Churches of Saint-Pol-de-Léon to Berven

Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral

Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral is more correctly known as the Cathédrale Saint-Paul-Aurélien de Saint-Pol-de-Léon. It lies on the northern side of the Rue du 4 Août 1944, in the very centre of the town in the Morlaix arrondissement. The first church here was built as the seat of the bishop of Saint-Pol-de-Léon, established in the sixth century, and the church was dedicated to its founder, the first bishop Saint Paul Aurelian. The present building was erected in the thirteenth century.

Chapelle Notre-Dame de Kreisker

Chapelle Notre-Dame de Kreisker (Chapel of Our Lady of Kreisker) is also in Saint-Pol-de-Léon. It was constructed during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by an unknown architect who is thought to have been English. The chapel's tower, which rises seventy-eight metres above the ground, was the prototype for many similar towers in Brittany. Destroyed several times by the Normans and later by the English, the church was restored each time.

Notre Dame de Croas Batz

Notre Dame de Croas Batz, Roscoff, sits at the very northern tip of the town on the Rue Albert de Mun, road D769. The Gothic church, one of the last of this style, was constructed in 1515. The Renaissance bell tower was added in 1550-1576. Roscoff has long been a significant port since Mary Queen of Scots landed in 1548 on her way to Paris to be engaged to François, the son and heir of Henri II of France. Bonnie Prince Charlie also landed in 1746 after his defeat at Culloden.

Cléder Church

Cléder Church lies at the heart of the town, on Rue de l'Armorique at the corner with Rue de Plouescat, on the D10, east of Goulven. The village's name, Cléder, comes from 'Ke' or 'Keenan', an Irish saint called Colodoc, born in the mid-fifth century. In the tenth or eleventh century, the village became an independent parish, detached from Plouescat (see below). The ancient church, which was relatively small, was demolished in 1787 and replaced by the present building.

Plouescat Church

Plouescat Church lies on the northern side of Rue du Maréchal Foch, at the heart of the small town which is to the north of the main settlement. The first mention of the parish comes from 1282, when Irish monks were Christianising the Bretons. This period was marked by violent outbreaks of typhoid throughout the region. The existing chapel was rebuilt in 1714 and a new church was built in 1763. This again was replaced by a new church, the present one, in 1864.

Chapelle Notre Dame de Berven

Chapelle Notre Dame de Berven (Our Lady of Berven Chapel) was an important stopover for pilgrims. It lies on Rue de Berven, just south of the junction with Rue de Brest, Berven, on the D35, near Cléder, in the Morlaix arrondissement. The chapel's reconstruction by Kerjean Castle in St Vougay began in 1573. The Renaissance belfry which was completed in 1576, had a great influence on Breton art. The chapel also contains a 'sacred foundation' on the south side.

All photos on this page contributed by Colin Hinson.

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