Archive for April 24th, 2019

April 24, 2019

Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchaye at Rochefort en Terre!

Often buildings tells the story of its people and how preserved they are, it is no surprise that in France, they are respected and much effort to preserve them is done by all including our benevolent visitors who falls in love with them. I have come to medieval wonderful beautiful Rochefort en Terre in my dept 56 of Morbihan several times and it is our favorite Christmas market each year we are home. Many posts written on it but surprise they are a bit old and nothing on the monument showcase here.

Therefore, it is time to remedy that and tell you a bit more on the wonderful nice Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchaye ! Enjoy it as we do, and again thanks for stopping by.

The Church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchaye is located in Rochefort-en-Terre, Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Brittany.


A bit of history I like,

The fortified belll tower of the transept junction dates from the Romanesque chapel built in 1125. In 1533, the north façade was rebuilt in flamboyant Gothic style, as evidenced by the inscription of the amount of the Portal: in 1610, a large polychrome stone altarpiece which is now at the bottom of the choir. In 1865, the south side is restored. In 1887, the north façade is also restored. In 1898, the west gable was repaired and the grandstand was built. In 1922, the stone altarpiece found its present place whereas before it replaced the old rood screen separating the nave from the choir. The stained glass of the sacred heart is set up on the east gable, and the stained-glass window of the statue’s discovery is installed on the south side.

rochefort en terre

According to the legend, the Church Notre Dame de la Tronchaye was built on the site where a statue of the Virgin, breastfeeding the infant Jesus, was discovered in the 12C . It is claimed that the statue was hidden in the trunk of a tree two centuries before, while the Vikings attacked the area. A stained glass of 1927 recalls this legend. Therefore, Notre-Dame de la Tronchaye is the name of an ancient and venerable wooden statue of the most Blessed Virgin, preserved in the Church. This name of Tronchaye seems to say that the statue was originally exposed or found in the trunk of a tree.

rochefort en terre


In the 15-16C, under the authority of the family of Rieux, it was erected as a collegiate church and, thereafter, experienced some beautification works. Under the French revolution the Church Notre Dame de la Tronchaye serves as depot and store. Then in the 19C, other transformations altered the Church and its surroundings. It does not have its present appearance until 1924.

It was naturally done in Roman style and had the form of a Latin cross, with a square turret on the middle of the inter-transept. This plan is still that of the Church of the beginning of the 20C, because the substitution of the new Church to the former was only gradually made.

Besides the beautiful mansions of the 16-17-18C perfectly preserved, Rochefort-en-Terre has one of the most beautiful churches in the region, dedicated to Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchaye. From the Romanesque period only the steeple with fortified towers remains, while the main façade reveals the delicacy of a flamboyant Gothic. As for the Calvary, it presents three magnificent stages of sculptures illustrating scenes from the life of Christ.

rochefort en terre

You will do well coming here at least in Christmas time!!! And as usual some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

TOurist office of Morbihan dept 56 on the Church

Tourist office of Brittany on Rochefort en Terre heritage

Tourist office of Rochefort en Terre on the Church

early from Tourist office of Rochefort en Terre on the spirit of Christmas

Do enjoy the town, the Church Notre Dame de la Tronchaye, everything here is magical. Of course best by car but come from Paris Montparnasse to Vannes train station and there get the TIM bus line 9 to Rochefort en Terre!

And remember, happy travels , good health,and many cheers to all!!!



April 24, 2019

Church of St. Joseph at Pontivy!

Here I am again back to my wonderful beautiful Morbihan breton in my lovely Brittany. Again, I have written several posts on Pontivy and mentioned this Church but feel it deserves a post of its own and more details. Therefore on a stormy cloudy day , let me tell you a bit more on the Imperial Church of St Joseph.

The Church of St. Joseph is located on Rue Nationale, in Pontivy, Morbihan dept 56 of Brittany. It was built in the heart of the Napoleonic district of the city (city was known as Napoleonville) between 1863 and 1867, thanks to an imperial grant granted by Emperor Napoleon III during a visit to the city. As the Imperial subsidy was exhausted on that date, the work was interrupted and the Church remained unfinished. This Church is open in summer, as part of the art in the chapels, every day from 14h to 19h (except Tuesdays), on the dates of the event. Need to verify the tourist office for opening dates and hours. Inside photos are not allowed.


The Church of St Joseph features a belltower-porch that has implemented large-grain granite in big facade, with monolithic balusters, granite stone from the area. In neo-Gothic style, the Church remained outwardly unfinished (no spire of the Bell Tower). One notices the gargoyle overcoming the porch, left side, which represents the Empress Eugenie and, inside, the stained glass with imperial weapons. The final reception of the works takes place as is in 1869. The Church was officially handed over to the bishopric in 1873 as the auxiliary chapel of the parish church and consecrated on April 12, 1876 as in Saint-Joseph.

The Church of St. Joseph is built on a three-tiered Latin cross plan: large arcades, triforium and tall windows. It has the choir facing south, contrary to the religious architectural norms that require an orientation of the choir towards the east. The building is undoubtedly of neo-Gothic style: the vaults are crossed by warheads whose thrust is counterthrust to the outside by a series of buttresses, the light penetrates through the bays in broken arch, enriched outside with spoil and pinnacles. The Emperor also wanted the Church to finance a Finnish-style Bell Tower, but the Church of St. Joseph nevertheless had no reference to the Breton Gothic. It was the French Gothic of the 13C that inspired the Parisian master of Church.


The bell tower could not receive an arrow because the Imperial financial contribution was not enough to complete the construction site, as well as other elements of the Church such as the stones sometimes carved sometimes simply spliced with architectural sculpture are a good examples. The Sacristy, indispensable to the good conduct of the cult, could not be built. In 1869, fixed furniture such as altars, pulpit, stalls and organ were non-existent.  In the 1870s, in NeoGothic style, the panels that closed the Choir, as well as the stalls and the pulpit to preach, carved the dove of the Holy Spirit which decorate the lampshade of the pulpit to preach and the reliefs of the four Evangelists accompanied by their symbol on its cube, Saint Mathieu and the Angel, Saint Mark and the Lion, Saint Luke and the Bull, and Saint John and the Eagle.


The organ that is in the choir today dates from the early 20C. In 1972, the restored organ was installed in the Benedictine Abbey of the Sisters Saint-Michel de Kergonan in Plouharnel (see post on this). In the early 1990’s, the nuns preferred to separate from this instrument and was acquired by the Intercommunal Union for the Tourist Development of the canton of Pontivy. This is how the organ is installed in the Church of St. Joseph where it has remains.

The arms of the Emperor Napoleon III are inlaid on the stained glass of the eastern arm of the transept, on the keystone of the apse of the Choir and under the railing of the bell tower-steeple outside. The elements that form the coats of arms are: the Crown, the Imperial mantle, and the signs of the sovereign authority such as the scepter and the hand of righteousness; the Eagle is still present because it symbolizes the military victories and the necklace of the Legion of honour. The “E” of the Empress Eugenie and the “N” of Napoleon III are located in the center of the stained glass of the west arm of the transept and on the floor of the Choir, topped by the Imperial Crown and surrounded by bees, as well as in the center of the west arm of the transept. The bee symbolizes immortality and resurrection and creates a bond also between the Empire and the origins of France. It was in 1653 that, on the tomb of Childeric I, father of Clovis, small bees in gold and garnet were discovered in Tournai ,Belgium. The bee figures are present on the two rosettes of the transept where they surround the central motif with stars. They are also found on the floor of the choir, framing the Imperial Eagle or the figure of Napoleon and on some keystone of the aisles of the nave and the Chapel and the Choir. The bees surround the figure of the Emperor and the Imperial Crown on the pavement of the Choir and the figures of the Emperor and the Empress in the center of the rose of the west arm of the transept.

The Bell Tower, the triforium and the rosettes of the transept; before being restored in 1991, the Church’s bays were once closed by stained white glass windows, most of them surrounded by a blue border. the Church of St. Joseph of Pontivy is today among the major French historical monuments that have participated in the renewal of the art of contemporary stained glass from the 1980’s.

Some webpages as usual by me to help you plan your visit here and it is worth a detour are

City of Pontivy flyer on the Church St Joseph in pdf file :

Tourist office of Pontinvy on Napoleonic heritage

Tourist office of Morbihan dept 56 on the Church in French

There you go another nice stop in your route of Brittany ,and especially my dear home dept 56 of Morbihan. The Imperial Church of St Joseph at Pontivy is worth waiting to see it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



April 24, 2019

Basilica Church Notre Dame de la Joie at Pontivy!

So here is another gem that I have often written on it in previous posts but never a post of its own, which I think it deserves.  Again right up the alley on my area on the Napoleonic town of Pontivy (read my posts to know why) we have the Basilica Church of Notre Dame de la Joie; of course in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-La-Joie is located at the place Bourdonnay-du-Clézio, and the place Anne de Bretagne, it is in the center of the medieval town of Pontivy.


A bit of history I like

The commemorative stone placed between the two flagstones dominating the western portal, recalls that the first stone was laid on April 29, 1533. The local Pontivyens, whose Church of St. Ivy was too small and falls from dilapidated, are obliged to raise in the 1530’s a new sanctuary in the form of a Latin cross, partly thanks to the financial assistance of the Bishop of Cornouaille Claude de Rohan. The arms of the family of Rohan are also listed above the double door of the tower and their faces are recalled on the columns.


According to local tradition, an epidemic of dysentery was rampant in the city in 1695 and 1696. On September 11, 1696, the inhabitants would have made the vow, if the scourge ceases, to offer to the Virgin an eternal silver lamp in the Chapel dedicated to St. Ivy. The invocation of Mary having made the scourge disappears, the lamp would have been lit the next day and a first procession organized in her honor. The Church is then placed under the term of Notre Dame de la Joie or Our Lady of Joy. In reality, the cult of the Virgin is more ancient in the region and that of Pontivy dates back at least to the previous century. Since then, the tradition lasts, a pardon (penitence procession) being organized on the 12th of September or the following Sunday, now every second Sunday of September.

The Church of Notre Dame de la Joie was transformed at the end of the 18C, in particular thanks to the liberalities of the Dukes of Rohan, as well as at the end of the19C such as the Spire, the aisles of the choir and the vaults of the nave date from 1886 in order to respond to the increase of the population of Faithful. On January 10, 1959, Pope John XXIII granted the Church the title of minor Basilica.


A bit of architecture I like

The Basilica Church of Notre Dame de la Joie makes a large appeal to the granites stones of  with grey-green brick schists and eroded sandstone. Successive additions have made the Church lose its primitive plan in the Latin cross, but among the gables that cut the southern façade one still recognizes, at its elevation, the old cross brace. The broken-arch windows are lined with networks restored in the 19C and are topped with gables to the creeping hills decorated with sticks and cabbage. The western gate is made up of two twin bays in a basket-loop, underlined by a double-glazed window of gorges and carved with vine and oak leaves. These berries are topped with ornate curly braces and framed with three balusters fashioned in fine granite. Above their marquee stand out on slight pinnacles the repeated rhombuses on the three fretted columns,  these rhombuses represent the faces of the coat of arms of the House of Rohan.

The two upper floors are pierced on each side of a long window and crowned by a flaming gallery. This railing is loaded with animal gargoyles and corner pinnacles. On this basis was built an octagonal dome from which rises the stone Spire which succeeded, in 1886, to a slate frame. The three-nave main nave consists of four spans and communicates with the aisles through broken arcades to several archivolts that penetrate into columns engaged in square pillars. These pillars are done in granite coarse grain.

A bit more on the interior

The Basilica Church Notre Dame de la Joie preserves several altarpieces in the Interior, including that of the high altar. This altar, in polished grey marble and polychrome stone, done in 1782 in Rennes while the architectural altarpiece in marble and taffeta stone, dates from 1725. The Louis XV style, altarpiece adopts a concave plan with a central body in advance which houses in a huge niche, in the shape of arch in basket, the carved group of the Holy Family in terracotta. In the center, depicts Christ as an adult, summoned from the dove of the Holy Spirit and which shows the figure of God the Father. The columns of black marble, arranged on either side of this niche, support an entablature, embellished with rondeaux, dominated by an imposing semicircular pediment on which rests a crowning niche. In this niche, accosted with inverted columns and consoles, throne St. Ivy (Patron Saint of the parish) as a Bishop wearing monograms crowned with Christ and the Virgin, accompanied by two musicians Angels. The wings, curved, are flanked by columns lined with pilasters with Corinthian capitals and finished by inverted consoles with vegetal décor. They shelter, under red draperies forming a canopy, the statues of the parents of Virgin Mary, St. Joseph on the left and St. Anne on the right. Each statue is topped with an entablature decorated with crisscrossed palms and a cornice with dentelles and modillions. The upper level ends with two small ailerons, adorned with medallions probably illustrating the portraits of the donors carved in bas-relief and the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul draped in antique style.



The front of the high Altar bears the name of Jehovah in Hebrew characters, with the sun and the beams of stylized rays. It is topped by a marble Tabernacle with a wrought-in mosaic gold and enamel door over mounted. It was on this Altar that the Federation volunteers of the French revolution  signed their act of Union on January 19, 1790. This is the first time that the term living free or dying is used.


The Basilica Church Notre Dame de la Joie ,also, presents a series of statues from the 16-17-18C. The most notable, backed by the pillars  are Our Lady of Joy carved in an oak trunk, Our Lady of Deliverance revered by pregnant women, a polychrome wooden statues of St. Catherine and St. Barbara are likely to come from the former convent of the Recollects of Pontivy, now destroyed. The Church has a 17C wooden eagle-lectern, donated by the Duke of Rohan. The Louis XV style desk is adorned with a raptor whose greenhouses cling to a large bronze sphere that symbolizes the Earth’s globe.



An oil on canvas with the subject of the descent of the Cross, dated 1635 and restored in 1974, is a work of the Flemish school.  The Chapel Our Lady of Joy, has an altarpiece where the revered statue sits. The seated Virgin holds, on the right, a scepter and, standing on her knee the child Jesus. On the other side of the Choir, the altarpiece of the carved wooden Calvary is a typical 17C work.  The perpetual lamp is suspended from the vault. From the 19C, the Church preserved a series of stained glass windows and a Cavaillé-Coll organ made in 1836. Other stained glass windows were added in the 20C.



Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Tourist office of Pontivy on heritage

Tourist office of the Morbihan 56 on the Basilica Church in French

There you go another gem near me and worth the detour, wonderful city center and great walks by the river. This is the Rohan territory of the Morbihan breton. Enjoy the Basilica Church Notre Dame de la Joie or Our Lady of Joy

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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