The Church Saint Venerand,Laval!

And here we are again by the Pays de la Loire region and this time in dept 53 of Mayenne. I have written some posts on this town but left this nice monument out and would like to tell you about it here ,of course the wonderful town of Laval.

And one monument kept quietly but worth the detour is the Church Saint Venerand. Here is my take on it with the history I like. Hope you enjoy it

The Church or église Saint Vénérand, is a very nice Church by Rue du Pont de Mayenne, that we could not go in as Mass service was been conducted at 10h30. The Church was finished in 1499 and houses wonderful relics brought back from Rome in 1693.


It was in 1485 that François de Laval , the future Guy XV of Laval, Count of Gavre to advise how to raise a church closer to the banks of the Mayenne river, leaving more easily accessible to its many parishioners. The church of the ancient priory of Saint-Melaine served as a Romanesque church , and was becoming too far from the new population center marked by the development of the canvas trade; it was replaced by a new church.

The story goes that Father Angot says of the foundation of this church in Laval that Guy XIV of Laval offers in 1490 to the notables of the parish apart from his protection and feudal allowances a remarkable relic, namely the head of Saint Vénérand, from his church of ‘Acquigny to be kept.  In  1485,  Guy XIV of Laval, count of Laval, preceded by the clergy, followed by the count of Gavre, his son,  and others  could lay the first stone of their new church.

A small bell was melted which was given the name of Vénérande. The relics of Saint-Vénérand are placed in the provisional chapel in 1490. In 1499, the Church of Saint-Vénérand was gradually completed. The nave and the transepts were completed in 1520. A new bell was melted, it was given the name of Anne . The church  completed in 1521, then consisted only of a nave and two transepts. The portal was not yet built . In  1521 the church, put under the invocation of Saint Venérand, of which it already had a part of the head. Guy XVI of Laval, in 1522, attended the dedication of this new church, the foundations of which his predecessor had traced.


In 1605, the Confrérie du Saint-Sacrement de Laval was founded in the Church Saint-Vénérand.

The Church Saint Vénérand ,then contained, in addition to the high altar, seven altars dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, Saint Anne, Saint Barbara, Saint John, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint William and Saint Claude. The great altar of the church of Saint-Melaine was also brought in this time to Saint-Vénérand and placed at the bedside. The church wardens was  placed in the Chapel of Saint-André, which had just been built. In 1699, permission was given to demolish four altars in the church, namely, those of Sainte Anne, Saint Bonaventure, Saint John the Evangelist and Sainte Madeleine. The altars of Saint Christopher and Saint Eloi had already disappeared. In 1705, the chapel on the side of the Gospel, where the sacristy was, was completed and vaulted. In the middle of the 18C, the choir was adorned with beautifully crafted iron stalls and balustrades; a sacristy is built there. Until 1707, there was only a sacristy in a chapel, near the choir on the side of the Gospel. The first stone of the Sacristy was laid in 1707, behind the northern transept, on the Chevalier courtyard it was completed four years later, in 1711. In 1772, relics of Saint Charles Borromée were brought, then in 1775  those of the True Cross n and the altar of the Blessed Virgin was built in 1781.

During the French revolution from the end of 1793 to 1795, the Church Saint Vénérand was removed for worship and served as stores for fodder and supplies, sometimes as a stable. After the French revolution, the church recovered a pulpit from the Convent of the Jacobins, work of a religious men. The author of this work of sculpture had the idea of ​​tracing, on the front face, the view of the city of Laval, which he had in front of his convent. We can see the old castle, the large clock, destroyed in the 19c, the small castle and the Church of Saint-Tugal, as we saw them then. A new organ was replaced in the church in 1834.

There currently remain in the Church Saint Vénérand ,seven altarpieces, including one from the 19C. 4 of them date from the 18C. There are thus: the altar of the Virgin dated 1610, and that of Sainte-Anne, dated 1606. They illustrate the beginnings of what will become the school of Laval ; the altar of the Bishops dated 1732; its upper niches frame a stained glass window, in a layout inspired by that of the symmetrical altarpiece dedicated to Sainte-Anne. The altars of Saint-John the Baptist and Saint-Joseph, exactly identical and symmetrically arranged with respect to the apse of the axis of the choir, are dated by an inscription from 1743. another altar, located at the chevet of the church , follows the shape of the axis absidiole, and could date from 1748.

Beautiful canopies once adorned all the windows that lit the nave, the transepts and the sides of the choir. Only two of the old ones remain today in the two transepts. In the transept of the Church Saint-Vénérand , two 16C stained glass windows have been kept: La Crucifixion, and La Vie de Moïse.  In 2005, Michel Soutra painted The Promised Land to accompany Moses and La Grâce by body and blood of Christ to go with the Crucifixion. In the choir, on each side, the artist created four canopies to replace 19C stained glass, abstract glasses, of colors, very rhythmic evoking the angels and the saints who go up to the choir.

Some webpages to help plan your trip to wonderful Laval are

Tourist office of Laval on the Church Saint Vénérand in English: Tourist office of Laval on Church Saint Venerand

The Parish of Laval on Church Saint Vénérand in French: Parish of Laval on Church Saint Venerand

City of Laval on history and heritage in French: City of Laval on heritage and history

There you go a nice fortified town of Laval in the Mayenne lovely and full of wonderful architecture and history we like. Hope you enjoy Laval and do visit the Church Saint Vénérand.

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

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