Church Saint Malo at Dinan!

And continuing on this wonderful memory lane tour of my older posts. I come to one that is so nice,need to update and show it. This is the imposing Church of Saint Malo in Dinan. Let me give you something to think and see when possible.

And I take you up north to the Côtes d’Armor dept 22 and beautiful Dinan. Ah yes very popular town and famous for the chic and famous nice living good beaches and several nice places to see if reading my blog.   I have written several entries on Dinan, and believe a single post on this wonderful Church is worth a post. I like to tell you a bit more on the Church of Saint Malo in Dinan. The Church of Saint-Malo is from the 15C. It is representative of the flamboyant Gothic in Brittany. The Church dimensions are 76.50 meters long by 44.10 meters wide.


A lot of history I like….

The first Church of Saint-Malo was located outside the walls at the site of the present Chapelle Saint-Joachim at boulevard Flaud, this first church depended on the Priory Saint-Malo founded in 1066 by Olivier, Viscount of Dinan. In 1488, the French army threatened Brittany, Duke Francis II fearing the capture of Dinan ordered the destruction of the first Church of Saint-Malo, in order to prevent the French army of Charles VIII from using it as a fulcrum to attack the city. He agreed to finance a new Church on the condition that it be rebuilt intra-muros. At the end of July 1488, after the Breton defeat of the Battle of Saint Aubin du Cormier, the French army commanded by Louis de la Trémoille began the siege of Dinan, the city capitulated quickly and in August 1488 Jean II of Rohan, first Baron of Brittany but ally of France, took control of the city. There he will remain the captain from 1488 to 1516.


The choice of this Flamboyant Gothic architecture could have been imposed by Jean II of Rohan, churches with the same type of architecture are indeed distributed in its possessions in other regions of Brittany.   The laying of the first stone takes place in May 1490 with part of the materials recovered from the site of the old church of Saint-Malo (present-day Chapel of Saint-Joachim), of which there will remain only part of the nave, the complement is provided by Querignan granite.

In 1508, the financing of the church was taken over by Duchess Anne and then by King Louis XII. These gifts added to those of the congregation of Saint-Malo, allow to complete the choir , a sanctuary covered with a wooden vault, ambulatory and chapels, the walls of the transept and the central vessel of the nave. The steeple without its arrow were built in 1517. The north chapels would not have been built until the mid-16C.   At the end of the 16C, the heirs of Jean II of Rohan became Protestants, Henri II de Rohan then ceded his right in the axial chapel of the church to the steward Raoul Marot des Alleux, he was built a mausoleum in white marble in the form of a sarcophagus of the first half of the 17C. The triumphant porch on the Grand ‘ Rue ,southern entrance of the transept was erected between 1613 and 1630.

During the French revolution, the Church of Saint Malo was no longer dedicated to worship, it served as a wheat market, stable, theater, and barracks. Most of the noble marks present in the Church are hammered according to the guidelines of the Convention, the mausoleum of the steward Marot des Alleux was destroyed in 1795 (five fragments are known: two were reused as fronts of altars- Chapel in the Church of Saint-Malo and Chapelle Saint Joachim-Two are stored at the museum and the last one is used in siding in a chapel of the Basilica of Saint Sauveur). Throughout the revolutionary period, the church degrades, the roof of the nave pours the rainwater into the nave, the two chapels which had been built at both angles of the transept and nave threaten to fall into ruins, the Ivy invaded the pinnacles and the gargoyles, the windows were clogged in the places where the stained glass was broken. The Church is returned to worship in 1803.

A bit on the construction architecture and more on the history I like

The construction of the nave takes place from 1855 to 1865, it relies on foundations dating from the 15C respecting the original plan (the columns of the nave dating from the 16C) the spire of the steeple will never be built. The entire eastern part (chorus and transept) as well as the nave’s central hall date from the 15C and 16C in flamboyant Gothic, the triumphant porch on the Grand ‘ Rue, the 17C of Renaissance style and the aisles of the nave, of the 19C (interior and exterior neo-Gothic) but respecting the original flamboyant style. The choir measuring 25 meters by 20 meters is supported by eight pillars, the granite vault culminates at 21 meters. Two chapels open on the south ambulatory, they are followed by a small strong house that contains the sacristy, part vaulted surmounted by the hall of the factory. It is accessed by the second door and a spiral staircase. This staircase also makes it possible to reach the triforium. These two broken-arched doors are adorned with sculpted animals (dog, lion and 2 dragons) and kale. The Hall of the factory is illuminated by a large gothic canopy and has an opening overlooking the choir. This little opening might imply that Jean II of Rohan was using this room as Oratory.


Three chapels occupy the apse and four the north ambulatory, the last one contains the door overlooking the staircase leading to the steeple. Each chapel has splashback . The key located in front of the axial chapel of the apse represents the seven deadly sins, this representation could relate to the conflict between Jean II of Rohan, founder of the Church of Saint Malo and the Duke of Brittany. If one observes the scene well, one can notice that the devil having the hand on the mouth of the character tortured possesses a ducal crown, it could be the Duke of Brittany preventing Jean II de Rohan from expressing himself.


At that time, it was planned to build a high arrow in place of the current steeple, this explains the imposing size of the columns of the transept. The north arm of the transept ,early 16C contains the staircase leading to the steeple. The south arm, built in the 16C, contains the great organ, it opens with a triumphant portico of Renaissance style 17C closed by two oak doors 17C. The nave 19C, 26 meters long and 18 meters high, comprises three vessels. The central nave is covered with a vault in Tufa of Angers. The aisles are illuminated by ogival windows topped with stained glass from the 19C and 20C. The Church of Saint Malo, of quite imposing size, has a small steeple 40 meters, which is in fact only a four-pans roof with some small giblets. Originally, the Church had to have a granite arrow, of which we can see the bases from each angle of the roof. It should have been consistent, given the size of the four pillars of the transept, each having a diameter of three meters.



The bell tower still contains four bells, three of which are regularly used and are motorized.   The Bourdon, affectionately dubbed “Gros-Malo” and would weigh the low weight of 2.980 kg. According to the diameter of this bell, 1.775 mm, it would actually weigh 3.319 kg. This bell was made in 1869. The second bell, “Mélanie-Clementine” up and done in 1835. It has a diameter of 1.230 mm and weighs about 1.092 kg. The third bell, “Marie-Henriette-Anne ” and replaces since 1929   “Marie-Louise “, which was offered by the sister of François-René de Chateaubriand, in 1846. It has a diameter of 1.075 mm and weighs about 720 kg. The fourth bell, slightly false, non-motorized, probably served as an alarm bell. It never rings.

Set up after the completion of the nave in 1865, the stained glass windows of the choir, the transept and the chapels of the nave were laid during the late 19C, those of the aisles of the nave, during the first half of the 20C, then the stained-glass windows of the axial chapel were renovated at the beginning of the second half of the 20C. The Church Saint Malo has two organs: the Grand organ, built in 1889, of English built, it has three keyboards of 56 notes and a pedal of 30 notes., just like the carved chestnut tribune, which is located in the south transept. A second organ, formerly owned by a Polish pianist, Henri Kowalski, serves as a choir organ. It is in a chapel in the northeast of the altar.

Some webpages to help you  plan your trip here and do get to this Church of Saint Malo even if not much written on in the tourist sites I need to look up brochures at the Church itself.

The tourist office of the Dinan-Cap Fréhel region on the heritage of Dinan

The tourist office of Brittany/Bretagne on Dinan

This is in French from the Pastoral Catholic community of Dinan on the Church of Saint Malo

The sights are endless, the beauty is out of this world, this is celtic Brittany at its best and I encourage you to come over and see it first hand.   The  Church of Saint Malo is a bit struggle into the politics of Brittany that prevails it from getting independent with many of its nobles not decided or did so with France. Lots of history, architecture here at Dinan. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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

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