Vannes: Church Saint Patern!

Well back to my playground and the city I work for the last 9 years! I have of course several posts on its wonderful history architecture and beautiful monuments. However, the oldest Church in town deserves more. Even if my bad luck each time by it is closed! I will describe it anyway as I have the history book of Vannes and this church.

Sure done posts but this is new text and photos and I will like to tell you a bit more of a wonderful neighborhood we love and the Church of Saint Patern of Vannes. Bien sûr in the Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne!


The Church Saint-Patern , located in the district of the same name, is dedicated to Saint Patern, the first bishop of Vannes in the 5C. The church is located at the corner of the rue de la Fontaine and the rue Saint-Patern. It replaces an old 10C church which housed the relics of Saint Patern, first bishop of the bishopric of Vannes and one of the seven founding saints of Bretagne/Brittany. The Latin cross church was replaced in the 11C by a Romanesque church which saw its tower collapse in 1721 and the rest of the church 5 years later. The current church was built from 1727 to 1772 (the nave) and 1826 (the tower). The stained glass windows in the choir from 1737 were replaced in 1882 and then in 1918. The stained glass window on the north door, “Christ surrounded by eight children”, is from 1923.


You can admire 6 altarpieces, including the altarpiece of the Sainte-Parenté (north transept) and that of Saint-Isidore (south transept) which date from the 18C. The altarpiece of the Resurrection of Christ, at the back of the choir, enlarged in 1925, dates from 1744. The pulpit is from 1813. The last restoration of 2006 and 2007 consolidated the church, brought stalls from the 17C, and enhanced the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague.


The Church of Saint Patern becomes in the Middle Ages a stage of the Tro-Breiz (tour of Brittany), or pilgrimage to the seven founding saints of Brittany. The church, ruined by two successive storms causing the collapse of the bell tower located at the crossing of the transept, was rebuilt in 1727. Between 1769 and 1777, the nave was extended by two additional spans and the construction of the bell tower planned on two floors. The latter was completed in 1825-1826. It is a church with a blind central aisle and side aisles that open onto non-communicating chapels. In the shape of a Latin cross and with a flat apse, a two-sided roof increased to the west by the bell tower caps the whole. To the east, the church is extended by a two-story central sacristy.


The restoration of the Church of Saint Patern between 2006 and 2008 restored the church to its 18-19C volumes by removing the untimely additions from the beginning of the 20C. The interest of the church rests not only on its stylistic homogeneity found thanks to its restoration but also on its severe style known as “style of the engineers”, noticeable in particular at the level of the openings and the rarity of the decoration.  Inside the church, the restored altarpieces, paintings and sculptures as well as the stained glass windows give the whole a character of elegant purity.


We know how, tired of the contradictions he encountered, Saint Patern abandoned his diocese and retired to the interior of Gaul or to the Franks, where he died and was buried, around the year 480, and how also, by a great and long drought, the sky itself took charge of recalling it later to the memories of Vannes. Recognizing in this scourge a punishment inflicted on their ingratitude, they went to his tomb, not only to make amends and ask for rain through his intercession, but also with the pious purpose of transporting his body to his Episcopal city. They were able to open the tomb; but the removal of the coffin resisted all their efforts, when the rich owner, who was part of the pilgrimage, publicly promised to donate his land and to build there at his expense a chapel for the burial of the Saint. Immediately, the body could be removed and the rain was not long in falling. Hence; the religious custom, which still exists, of asking for rain through the intersection of Saint Patern. The chapel was built and housed the glorious tomb until the end of the 9C or the beginning of the 10C, when Daoc, abbot of Saint-Gildas de Rhuys, transported the body of the holy bishop, with those of Saint Gildas and of Saint Patrice, in Bourg-Déols, in the Berri, and where, like the other religious monuments. The new building was much superior to the first in its size and architectural character. Raised to the rank of parish church it was surrounded by a cloister which did not collapse until the last years of the 14C, and received, until the middle of the 15C, the visits of the many pilgrims of Tro-Breiz.

In 1727, in order to note its state of ruin and the need to raze it and replace it with a new construction. It appears that these reconstructions had absorbed more than the resources available at the time; because the church was not entirely finished, and it is necessary to cross many years and arrive at 1769 so that it is question of completing the nave and of building a tower, no longer on the transept, like the old one, but at the bottom of the nave. The first stone of this new tower was laid in 1770, at the bottom of the old nave. The works were carried out for 1775 the tower which was not completed until 1826. Among the objects forming the treasure of this church, the archives mention, in 1662 and 1793, a silver chief of Saint Patern and containing some pieces of his relics. There were also, in their custodies, two silver images of Saint Patern and of Saint Mary Magdalene, given, at the end of the 16C.

The official parish of Saint Patern

The city of Vannes on the Church Saint Patern

And there you go , I feel now given you the whole story on this wonderful old Church of Saint Patern. Which of course ,I will be back lots of things to see inside. Hope you enjoy the architectural and historical presentation that I like as well.

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

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