Church of Saint Sulpice of Fougéres!

And my saga of updates on older posts in my blog continues while staying in Ille et Vilaine dept 35 of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France. This is another nice historical town that needs to be visit more and would like to tell you a bit more on the Church of Saint Sulpice of Fougéres!

And as we like Fougeres why not staying a bit longer here! Very nice town, and to think rode by for several years while living in Versailles and never stop! then once moved to Brittany decided to go, a pleasant surprise, a find; great town.  I like to bring to your attention another nice monument there , the Church of Saint Sulpice.


The Church of Saint-Sulpice is located at the foot of the castle of Fougères, outside the city walls. Between the castle moat and the old courtyard of the Nançon, in the medieval area of the Tanners, it forms the heart of the Old Town (Lower town), as opposed to the Church of Saint-Léonard (see previous post), located in the Bourg-Neuf (upper town) which developed from the 12C. 


A bit of history I like

The foundation of the parish of Saint-Sulpice is closely linked to the birth of the town of Fougères, around its castle, which is attested from the 10C. The Barons of Fougéres favored the construction of the first parish church of Fougères, under the patronage of Sulpice Severus, biographer of the Apostle of the Gauls Saint-Martin. The Bishop of Rennes, having authorized the translation of the parish cult into the convent church in 1155, more than three centuries of difficulties had to be raised between parishioners and religious as to the maintenance of the original parish. Finally, the cure remained at the presentation of the abbot of Marmoutiers throughout the old regime and the present church replaced from the 14C the ancient edifice. The construction of the present Saint-Sulpice’s Church has spread over nearly four centuries, from 1380 to 1760.


The Church of Saint Sulpice ,that was replaced occupied the current Choir. A simple nave accosted by a steeple and a sacristy forming a transept, it had probably been lengthened westward from a simple nave during the 14C. It was gradually surrounded by a crown of chapels, starting from the transept, to the West such as the construction of the Tanners ‘ Chapel, circa 1380. Construction of the Grande-Chapelle Notre-Dame, in the north, consecrated in 1410. Extension of the Choir, in 1412, whose apse was replaced by a flat bedside. Erection of the Paël Chapel, in the north, originally separated from the Grande-Chapelle but joined between 1450 and 1462. Realization to the south of the Chapels of San Sebastian (c. 1420, but done in 1516), St. Helena and the steeple from 1469 to 1490.  Establishment north of La Petite-Chapelle Notre-Dame and the Chapelle Saint-Damyn from 1495 to 1503, then the western gable. The work of the nave was actually completed only in 1546 and the Choir was then undertaken and conducted in the 18C, from 1747 to 1760.


St Sulpice’s Church housed the cult of Notre-Dame-des-Marais, which is still alive today. The tradition is that the statue of Notre-Dame-des-Marais was venerated as early as the 11C in the Chapel Sainte-Marie and that it disappeared after the Castle of Fougeres (see post) was taken by Henri II Plantagenet in 1166. It was allegedly exhumed on the occasion of the reconstruction of the Church of Saint-Sulpice at the turn of the 13-14C. A window of the choir recounts this legend. The present statue, in the stone of Caen, seems to go back to the 14C, but a restoration of the 18C makes it uncertain its dating. Hidden from the French revolution, the statue joined this chapter until the construction of a Gothic chapel in the same location in 1872.


The western part proceeds from the style of church in vogue in upper Britain in the 14-15C: large, blind main ship accosted by multiples-gabled collateral. Buttresses summoned by pinnacles, gargoyles, independent roofs and different templates of the chapels animate the three facades while a corner steeple, of square size, presents a floor of the bells completed by four gables and capped with an arrow in tapered slates that confine four pinnacles. The Church of Saint Sulpice is composed of a nave of four bays, bordered by collateral, and a flat-sided choir with three bays lined with lateral chapels, which communicate with each other through low-arched doors. The separation between the sacred space and that conferred on the laity is deeply marked. A triumphal arch underlines the chorus entrance, which itself is elevated by a walk in relation to the nave. The development of collateral is halted net at the fourth span by monumental granite altarpieces dating from the 16C. The Choir has a more classical structure. Six full-hanger arches carry a wooden vault, in cradle, adorned with paintings as well as the spandrels of the arcades. The chapels, capped with half-cradles, are separated by slitting walls pierced by small, low-slung doors. Only the ogival windows attest to the Gothic origin of this part of the building completed in the 18C.

The entire stained glass of Saint-Sulpice’s Church was carried out between 1885 and 1926 with the exception of five fragments of stained glass windows dating from 1558. The Church has stained glass windows from the early 20C, including the patriotic window of Joan of Arc, a vast composition that integrates with the crowd of three hairy processions. This stained glass was offered to the parish by local families who had lost their sons During the 1914-1918 War. The furnishings of the Choir of Saint-Sulpice’s Church almost exclusively local, which executed from 1757 to 1774, in a rococo style, one of the most beautiful liturgical arrangements of Brittany dating from the end of the old regime. The master altar executed from 1757 to 1760 is a work in red marble of Saint-Berthevin, Black of Solesmes, and white ( appearing the Lamb to the seven seals of Revelation). Its tabernacle, framed by two worshipping angels, dated 1759, is a semi-cylindrical wardrobe enriched with bas-reliefs representing the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the presentation to the temple and the baptism of Christ. A canopy, summoned by a statue of the Risen crown.

The altarpiece of the high altar, rococo-style, punctuated by four black marble pilasters, its paneling houses two paintings ,an Assumption and a panel containing the sacrifice of Abraham and the scene of the bronze serpent. And two statues of Notre-Dame De Grace and Saint-Sulpice. The work is crowned by a balustrade and triangular pediment, which bears two angels surrounding a 14C Christ in the cross; The side altars were raised towards 1760-1762 of more Baroque style, they host statues of Sainte-Anne and Saint-Joachim. Although not collegiate or abbey, the church houses a set of stalls from 1757-1762 that compete with the choir’s perspective. On both sides of the triumphal arch separating the nave from the choir, two large granite altarpieces, integrated into the body of the slitting walls, interrupt the development of collateral bordering the main nave. In a flamboyant Gothic style, raised at the dawn of the Renaissance, they are among the last medieval altarpieces built and preserved in Brittany.

The northern altarpiece, undertaken under the Duke Francis II, was completed after his daughter, Anne, became Queen of France, the splash back of the right presenting a crest of the party of France and Brittany. Originally to be used as a casket for the statue of Notre-Dame-de-Marais, it welcomed until the 1950’s the Virgin of the Rosary which occupies today the altarpiece of the Tanners, the object of devotion having recovered its primitive location since then. The Tanners ‘ altarpiece was undoubtedly completed during the reign of Duke Francis I. It presents the peculiarity of offering to its summit the complete iconography of the instruments of the Passion of Christ. In addition, a fleur-de-lis and an eagle are depicted on the torso columns, referring to the candidacy of Francis I in the imperial title, in 1517. Although the first mention of an organ in the Church of Saint-Sulpice dates back to 1447, the current major organ are recent, having been rebuilt from 1919 to 1921.


And as usual some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The city of Fougéres on its medieval heritage like the church:

The Fougéres tourist office on the Church of St Sulpice:

The Ille et Vilaine dept 35 tourist office on the Church of St Sulpice:

There you go folks another dandy in my dandy Bretagne. Hope you have enjoy the post and do stop by and let me know if around ok. The Church of Saint Sulpice in Fougéres is one site to visit while in town.

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

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