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Notre-Dame de Kersaint Chapel

Municipality of Landunvez




GPS : 48°32'57 N 4°42'21 W





Access : Leave St-Renan by the Ploudalmézeau road (D68) and continue straight on towards Argenton. 1.3 km after St-Roch chapel, turn right towards Landunvez. Cross the village, join the D27 and continue in the same direction until Kersaint. At the roundabout, turn right and park immediately to the right in the parking of the chapel.



    The bell tower of this chapel, with its three floors overlooking a beautiful gallery, was rebuilt in 1903. Indeed, the lightning had just knocked down the old bell tower dating from 1749 as well as part of the stained-glass windows, while the roof was seriously damaged.



  In front of the portal of the chapel stands a large stone ossuary with 13 niches for skulls. Don't worry, they're not busy !


  The particularly elaborate architectural ornamentation surrounding the chapel's large portal is noteworthy.
  The building was built in the XVth century, when the lords of the castle of Trémazan1, the du Chastel, were all powerful at the court of the kings of France. It probably replaced a much older building, which may even date back to the VIth century. In 1518, by decision of Tanguy(V) du Chastel, the chapel became a collegiate church, that is, it was entrusted to a community of monks, six white priests, benefiting from ecclesiastical income and residing, from about 1560, at the Canons' House, which was built for them not far from the castle. They organized all the services and kept this office until the Revolution. Considered national property, the chapel was sold to the Bazil family who donated it to the Landunvez's parish in 1810. It is also descendants of this same family who brought the funds during the reconstruction after the fire.



The nave


Photo A. du Chéné

    The church's interior is interesting. As soon as the visitor enters, he is welcomed by a large painting of the Crucifixion, which has found its place in the nave after restoration.


Very beautiful copy of the work of the Dutch painter Jordaens ( XVII th )
currently on display at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes
( Photo A. du Chéné)


    Kersaint was an important centre for pilgrims. The legend of Sainte Haude and Saint Tanguy has always been the basis of their devotions
Read the tragic legend and description of the Sainte-Haude fountain



It is recalled by the stained-glass windows of the master glassmaker Léon Payan2, which date from 1901.


Gurguy, already carrying the halo of Saint Tanguy, has just cut off his sister Haude's head with his sword.
In front of this spectacle, two washerwomen are desolate while a bourgeois raises his arms to the sky.
  This representation of a saint committing a fratricidal murder is quite surprising in a place of worship. But we must remember that his sister forgave him for his act and that the Gospels always advocate forgiveness.




In the great hall of Tremazan's castle, Saint Haude, standing on the right, forgives his brother Gurguy-Tanguy kneeling at the feet of his father Galon...
The saint bears under her face the mark of the sword that beheaded her.


To atone for his crime, Gurguy, still on his knees, receives from Bishop St-Pol Aurélien a dress of bure presented to him by another monk. Surmounted by an ardent halo, he then changes his name and becomes Tanguy. ( In Breton, tan = fire)
In the background we see St-Mathieu'abbey, which he later founded.


   These stained-glass windows replaced those destroyed by the 1903 fire : They represented the five members of the du Chastel family who became bishops. Jean, Bishop of Carcassonne, founder of the chapel, Olivier and Gabriel, Bishops of Uzès, Olivier, Bishop of St-Brieuc and Hippolyte, Bishop of Tréguier.

   On the walls of the nave two restored statues still remind the legendary founder of the pilgrimage.


The saint carries in her hand the red flower that the legend says to bloom around the place of the murder and in the ditches of the castle.




    Restored in 1998, the chapel has benefited from extensive work on its frame, barrel vault, slate roof and walls. The engoulants of the beams were originally polychrome.





In the centre of the beams, we can still see the traces of several coats of arms, most of which illustrate the alliances of the lords Du Chastel of Trémazan with other noble families in Brittany. Heraldist Michel Mauguin has made a remarkable study of it:




( Plan extracted from Landunvez heraldique by Michel Mauguin dec.2018)

    For example, this is one of the coats of arms shown on beam 2 of the above plan.




Photo A. du Chéné


On the left are the coats of arms of Olivier du Chastel,
lord of Trémazan, and on the right those of Marie du Poulmic.
They were married in 1459, at the time of King Charles VII
( Heraldic research by Michel Mauguin)


Thanks to this map, the visitor will enjoy searching and identifying the traces of the other coats of arms.


The nave, quite simple, presents in its walls about twenty terracotta vases which were brought to light under the old coatings. This equipment gives the building an exceptional acoustic quality that allows the Kersaint-Landunvez Musical Cycle to organize series of renowned concerts every summer.





    The chapel's past as a pilgrimage centre is recalled by the presence of a small lateral corridor, called the leper corridor, which allowed the sick to reach the chapel of the Virgin Mary directly, without being in contact with the other faithful. A small modern stained-glass window marks the old entrance.





Two fireplaces even allowed pilgrims to warm up when they spent the night in the building.





A large modern stained-glass window dominates the main altar with which it perfectly harmonizes.




Produced by Antoine Le Bihan's workshops in Quimper
on a project by Hung Rannou
this master-window was installed in June 2017



Photo A. du Chéné

The recently restored high altar dates from the first half of the 19th century. In the shape of a curved tomb, its polychrome woodwork imitating marble covers the old stone altar.





The same romantic style and floral decoration can be found in the Saint-Gonvel chapel.



To the right of the altar, above the sacristy door, three small paintings are on display.




They come from a very damaged canvas representing the Holy Family, which adorned the sacristy and could no longer be restored.


The Holy Family at the workshop. Oil on canvas from 1843.
Photo A. du Chéné


The north wing of the transept is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A very beautiful statue of Our Lady of Bon Secours and her Son, both crowned, is placed in a niche once closed by two wooden shutters.


The Virgin is represented holding a bunch of grapes to the baby Jesus.
The crowns and the fleurdelisé coat recall their rank in the Kingdom of Heaven.




    The Virgin, to whom the whole chapel is dedicated, is called here in Breton Itron Varia a Wir Zikour, literally Our Lady Mary of the Real Help. The pardon of Our Lady of Good Help takes place every year on Ascension Day and August 15. The faithful are very numerous to participate.

    A large painting depicting the Assumption, which once overlooked the main altar, now stands alongside Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. Listed as a Historic Monument, as are the main altar of the choir and the altarpiece, it would be attributed to the painter Yann Dargent and dates from the beginning of the XIXth.







To the left of this painting are two other statues that intrigue the visitor:





These ancient wooden statues have no names. According to Father Appéré, the first one could represent Saint-Yves, the patron saint of lawyers. The second, which lost the fingers of her right hand, would be a Mater Dolorosa.

    Another statue is placed against the south wall of the nave. It represents Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin and grandmother of the child Jesus. Saint Anne is the patron saint of Brittany.



    On the south wall of the nave, a pulpit to be preached placed very high up can still be seen. The canons reached it by a small door giving on a staircase placed in the sacristy.



    Two sailboat models given ex-voto to the chapel following a wish remind the visitor of the difficult sailing conditions in the Iroise Sea.






The plaque was placed following a vow made by the captain of a commercial sailboat and his sailors. A violent storm had brought them very close to the reefs of the coast. The danger was imminent, the sailboat was about to break.
"- Let's promise Our Lady of Kersaint to go see her tomorrow if she pulls us out of here," said the captain.
And a wave stronger than the others threw the ship over the rocks. The next day, they came as promised, bareheaded and barefoot, to thank Our Lady of Bon Secours.


***

-1- The ruins of the castle of Trémazan are located 500 m from the chapel. A page of this website is dedicated to them.


Léon Payan designed and made the stained glass windows of a large number of churches and chapels in Brittany. For more information on this artist and his work, see below the highly documented website dedicated to him.



Yannick Loukianoff

Print the itinerary below to discover other places recalling the legend of Saint Haude and Saint Tanguy:

Click on these two pictures to download it

Recto


Verso


***

Documentation kindly provided by Mr Hervé Le Corre and Mr Amaury du Chéné, presidents of the Association pour la sauvegarde des chapelles de Landunvez. Thanks for their help to Mrs Jacqueline Rolland of the Musical Cycle of Kersaint's Chapel, and to the heraldist Michel Mauguin who carried out the study below :

Sources :
- "La chapelle de Kersaint, Notre Dame du Vrai Secours".
- Abbé Ernest Appéré : "Notice sur Notre-Dame de Kersaint", Impr.Le Grand, Brest, 1936.

Concerts are organized every year in the chapel during the summer season. See on this website the section : Animations and festivals .




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