What is a Parish Close?
· A cemetery
· A monumental archway or gate giving access to the parish close
· A calvary, these range from a simple representation of Jesus on the cross to elaborate scenes from the bible depicted by up to 30 figures or more
·An ossuary – a repository for the bones of exhumed bodies
. A porch often decorated with statues of the apostles and local saints
The notion of the “parish close” was coined in Brittany. The closes benefited from the prosperity of the economic golden age in Brittany between the 15th and 17th centuries, particularly where linen was made.
These colourful events date from the Middle Ages. Men, women and children process through the streets in traditional costumes, carrying candles, banners and statues of saints to the church to celebrate mass, singing hymns on their way.
The procession and church service is usually followed by a Fest Noz in the evening. This involves lots of singing, dancing and food and are much less serious after the solemnity of the Pardon.
The sermons at the annual pardon are given from a platform in the churchyard. The congregation then perform devotions at the magnificent fountain and process to the nearby calvary of Pen Ar C’hra and it miraculous spring.
On the two levels of an octagonal pillar, set in the churchyard of Saint-Yves, stories from The Annunciation to The Resurrection unfold. A demonic devils head was added to the tableau in 1897.
This impressive calvary underlines richness and fertility of the 16th century in the Tregor region of Brittany.
One is dated from the 16th century on the right as you enter the enclosure which is very simple. The other dates from the 17th century and is beautifully decorated by an elaborate double row of balusters. Access is through a strangely arched door on the outside of the enclosure wall.
On the outside of the church itself you will find ships carved into the walls, a legacy from the pirating past of this charming port.
The mid-Gothic church of St-Germain is well worth a visit to see the painted 16th century panelled ceiling of the nave. Don't miss the beautiful carved cornices decorated with masks that portray mythological scenes alternating with stories of the lives of the saints and scenes of everyday life.
Representative of the art of the Renaissance, the gateway is 14.5 m in length consisting of three sections separated by Corinthian arches surmounted by a cross.
An ossuary is attached to the gate. The entrance to the ossuary is surmounted by a triangular pediment decorated with the arms of the family of Rohan.
Statues of the twelve apostles adorn the yellow granite exterior. Looking towards the square you can spy a mermaid carrying seaweed.