Summer in Brittany Part III- Better Late Than Never?
OMG! I can't believe it's Fall, and I've been so busy I haven't finished Summer yet! However, as I promised many weeks ago, I will continue with the journey to the Town of Lacronan, which was next on our trip. Locronan is part of the select clubs of “Small Towns of Character” and “The Most Beautiful Villages of France.” On our way there, we passed by an oceanside village named Plonevez-Porzay.The Chapelle's marshland shore was that of St. Ann-La-Palud, and it attracted our attention from afar. At the western side of the little Breton village of Saint-Anne-la-Palud in Plonevez-Porzay, Finistere, Bretagne, 4 miles northwest of Locronan, this large 19th-century Gothic Catholic chapel and pilgrimage center were dedicated to St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary. The
chapel is actually a basilic located on Sainte-Anne la Palud road. There have been several chapels on this site – the first founded by St Guenole in the 6th century may have been nearer the Anne’smarshland shoreline. To the south of the chapel on Sainte-Anne la Palud Road is St Anne’s Fountain (Fontaine de Sainte-Anne), which has been visited for its miraculous properties for hundreds of years by the faithful from the local area and
further afield. A few hundred meters to the west is the coast, Ste-Anne-d’Auray, and beyond that the Atlantic Ocean. Legend tells us that St Anne Breton was a woman of noble birth who journeyed to Judea as a tourist where she gave birth to her daughter, Mary. She is said to have been transported there by angels. Later, she returned to Brittany after Jesus’ birth and died there. But the Western Legend seems to be purely mythical or adapted from the life of another Breton, Saint Anna. In Ireland-- just a ferry ride across from Roscoff -- the Celtic goddess Annu (Danu) of the Tuatha De Danann seems to have metamorphosed into St Anne. Annu was celebrated in May. The first pilgrimages to Sainte-Anne la Palud may have begun in the 5th or 6th century at the behest of
two local saints, Corentin and Guenole. Land for the building of the first chapel dedicated to St Anne was given to St Guenole by King Gradlon. The present-day chapel dates from 1864. In more recent times, from the 17th century onwards, pilgrimages have become ‘ore prevalent, as have the ‘pardons’ in honor of the saint, revered about which take place in the sanctuary of the chapel in late July, culminating in the ‘Great Pardon’ on the last weekend of August each year. Then, the procession through the village begins and is always well-attended by the local community. During the ‘Great Pardon,’ a painted statue of the patron saint, made of granite and dating from 1548, which is much revered here, is held aloft and carried on its processional journey through the village
from the Chapelle St.Anne to the 17th century Calvary and, eventually to the Fontaine de Sainte-Anne. It is said that with regard to the pardons, The Breton pardons are, above all, a manifestation of religious fervor. They occur in the churches and chapels, sometimes consecrated by the tradition of a thousand years. These dates may seem just stats to you who read this, but for a girl born in Los Angeles, anything over 150 years old is shocking and surely emanates from the world of fairy tales.There, the faithful come to seek forgiveness for their sins, to fulfill a vow, or to beg for grace. The great pardons are most impressive, while the smaller, though less spectacular, are often more fervent. It is well worth a tourist’s while to arrange a trip so
that one may be present at one of these events. It is also one of the rare occasions when you will see the old customs, perhaps slightly modernized. The procession, which begins in the afternoon, is the most curious ceremony: candles, banners, and statues of saints are carried by men and girls, with pilgrims singing hymns, priests, the Blessed Sacrament, and sometimes even several bishops. After the procession, the lay festival is given free rain. As a rule, this is a rather ordinary fair. Modern dancers are replacing the gavotte, but bagpipes and bombards still hold their own against accordions and jazz. Sometimes, wrestling matches are a traditional sport of the Breton peasants. The patron Saint-Anne
la Palud is connected to the Cult of Saint Anne, brought to Western Europe by those returning from the Crusades. Her eager adoption by the Bretons was partly due to the popularity of the Duchess, Anne of Brittany, and her later renown. Patroness of Brittany and mother of the Virgin Mary, Saint Anne, was originally invoked for a good harvest. The most famous pardon in Brittany that of Ste-Anne-d’Auray is dedicated to her, so is the very important one of Ste-Anne-la-Palud and hence the local saying, “Whether dead or alive, every Breton goes at least once to Saint-Anne.” A doubtful legend makes St. Anne a Cornouaille woman of royal birth who was taken to Nazareth by angels to save her from her husband’s brutality. After giving
birth to the Virgin Mary, she is thought to return to Brittany to die. It was Jesus who, when visiting his grandmother, called forth the sacred spring of Ste-Anne-la-Palud. The statues usually portray her alone or teaching Mary to read, often wearing a green cloak symbolizing hope for the world. The only authorities for St. Anne's life are the references in three Apocryphal Gospels. Her name does not occur in Christian literature until the fourth century. She is said to have been the wife of a rich man named Joachim but was childless for many years. One year, when they came to the Temple for the dedication festival, Joachim was upbraided by the high priest for his childless condition. Cut to the heart and not daring to face the taunts of his neighbors, St. John Damascene highly extolled their virtue, and he
disappeared into the wilderness for forty days and gave himself up to prayer and mourning. Meantime, St. Anne remained in Jerusalem. Each had a vision of angels promising a daughter, who was to be called Mary and dedicated to God from birth. Many miracles were attributed to her in the Middle Ages, but the observance of her festival was not imposed by authority until 1584. Feast-day July 26th. The Hebrew word Anne signifies gracious. St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are justly honored in the church, and St. John Damascene highly extolls their virtue. The emperor Justinian I built a church at Constantinople in honor of St Anne in or about 550. Codinus mentions another built by Justinian II in 705.Anne's body was brought from Palestine to Constantinople in 710, when some portions of her relics were dispersed in the West. David Hugh Farmer says of St Anne: “Relics of her were claimed by Duren (Rhineland) and Apt-en-Provence, by Canterbury, Reading, and Durham. The most famous shrine in her honor in England was at Buxton. The Cult has left a literary record in three Middle English Lives. It was and still is especially popular in Brittany and Canada—Feast 26th July (with S. Joachim); in the East, 25th July. Henri Queffelec says, regarding Anne Le Berre“Anne is a name which is given to both men and women in Brittany. St Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the Patron Saint of Brittany and the object of special pardons in villages likSainte-Anne-d’Aurayay and Sainte-Anne-la-Palu”.”
SAnne’s’s Fountain is about one hundred meters south of Chapelle-Ste-Anne – on the south side of the road, beside a wooded area. This originated as a spring of water that flowed at the bidding of Jesus, according to the Legend, when he apparently visited higrandmother’s’s place of birth with St. John, or maybe she was still living when he came to visit her? The spring or well has been the site of miraculous cures down through the centuries and a place of pilgrimage for the faithful since very early times. It has been claimed that many, or all diseases, were able to be cured by the waters of the holy fountain, rheumatism being one in particular. I found it did little for my arthritis! Madness and evil were also said to be healed and warded off by the water. A statue of St Anne, on a plinth, with a young Mary at her side stands looking down over the well basin, the present structure of which dates from 1871. The local church pardons process here to the Fontaine-de-Sainte-Anne every year in Late July (small pardon) and the last weekend in August (the Great Pardon). Sadly, we had just
missed the festivities! However, we managed to enjoy some present-day delights that felt both healing and rejuvenating. As we strolled down one street, we came upon a little shop. It was so attractive on the outside and what was inside looked so beguiling that we decided to step in for a moment or two. Special wines and champagnes that boast
formulations of those same labels of ancient times in the region.
The shopkeeper was so charming and full of tales to tell about a previous life as a fashion designer and Paris and his decision to retire in the countryside of Brittany that we stayed to chat with him for well over an hour and a half and took away with us a sampling of almost everything he had in the store. Then, continuing on to Lacronan, a parish belonging to the bishopric of Quimper and to the country of Cornwall, Locronan is very ancient and is linked to the history of the duchy of Brittany. This important center of pilgrimage known for its Troménie (or procession), will benefit from donations.
of the Dukes of Brittany, in particular for
The construction was erected in the form of a cathedral by the will of Anne of Brittany from 1424 to 1480. The Penitentiary Chapel adjoining the listed church in 1845 houses the bed of St Ronan. In addition to the magnificent 15th-century glass masterpiece and the pulpit for preaching, the church contains a beautiful piece that needs to be restored to ward off the ravages
of time: the Altarpiece of the Rosary. The present church was built between 1430 and 1480 thanks to donations from the Dukes of Brittany John V, Peter II, and Francis II, on the site of the chapel of the priory dependent on the Abbey of the Holy Cross of Quimperlé, founded in 1031 by the Count of Cornouaille Alain Caignard. The presence of the master stonemason Pierre Le Goaraguer in 1485 is attested: he participated in the construction of the cathedral of Quimper between 1477 and 1479. The vaulted building (length: 36 m; width: 16 m), presents a great unity of style. The general volume presents a play of compact masses, with an offset in the middle due to the relief. The vessel follows the slope of the ground, rising towards the chevet, with
a landing very marked by a gable in the middle of the nave, punctuated by an openwork bell with an arrow. Access to the church is via two porches: the first, wide, applies to the western façade (a ribbed vaulted space opened by a semicircular arch); the second, more modest, is to the right of the
second bay to the north (two arcades in scalloped pointed arch).
On to Locronan, another small town of character and high place of druidic worship.It is above all a land of traditions. It is through the Troménie, one of the largest processions in Brittany, that we enter the heart of an ancient ritual.A land of miracles, Locronan has seen its fame and wealth increase thanks to the belief in Saint Ronan and the heritage of the Cult of fertili“y. Th” name of the "Névet" wood, which “omes fr”m the name "Né“eton", which means "natural temple under the celestial vault", is proof of this. This temple takes the form of a large
quadrilateral of about twelve kilometres, with twelve remarkable points, in reference to the twelve months of the year and the twelve female and male dieties. Thanks to the fame of Saint Ronan, Locronan was enriched by the influx of pilgrims to his tomb and by the favors of the Dukes of Brittany, in particular the exemption from certain taxes. During her visit in 1505, Anne of Brittany allocated the proceeds of the Guérande salt tax for the completion of the Penity. Like Anne de Bretagne, many Dukes and Duchesses of Brittany came to pray to Saint Ro“an to grant them "inheritance and lineage." Built in the form of a cathedral thanks to donations from the Dukes of Brittany, the flamboyant Gothic church of
Saint Ronan was built between 1424 and 1480 and listed in 1845. It has a number of remarkable architectural jewels which are also listed as Historic Monuments. The fourteen characterful residences that make up the church square were home to the notables and rich sailcloth merchants.
They have both 17th and 20th-century architectural characteristics. And the 18ème century shows up here as well, while retaining the forms of the 15ème century. It is the perfect image of the medieval city. On the day of the procession, the crosses and banners of Locronan and the surrounding parishes can be admired. The inhabitants are dressed in their most beautiful traditional Breton costumes, which here are in no way symbols of folklore. On the contrary, these costumes take on a completely different dimension, namely the connection to the ancestors. Idon’tsaid that if you don't do the procession during your life, you will have to do it after your death, but you will only be able to advance the length of your coffin every year.
After our visit to the town and the church, we were starving and had come up against the French custom of food service that ends its availability between 3-7 PM. So we got back on the road to Roscoff and stoppedMacDonald’s things, a MacDonald's (quel horreur)!
We arrived in Roscoff in time to see the sunset and to get a good night's sleep before our next journey to the town of Lannion, another Bell Ville de France. But I'll save this adventure for my next episode, Number IV 😊