Church Notre Dame de Victoire/St Louis of Lorient!!

This is sort of an odd post, as it can be call an update on the texts, but the pictures are all new from May 2021. It is one of our fav areas for walks in Lorient and the Church Notre Dame de Victoire/St Louis cannot be missed at the Place Alsace Lorraine. It is call Church Notre Dame de Victoire but the locals still call it Church de Saint Louis. Let me tell you a bit on it ok, and hope you enjoy it as I.

Lorient is about 35 km by car from my house, and visited several times if only a couple been inside the church. It really needs a post of its own and tell you more about the Church of Notre Dame de Victoire or St Louis of Lorient. Of course, this is in beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne!

lorient ch St Louis belltower clock may21

Let me go from the back forward on the nice sea town of Lorient. The town was created in 1666 and developed in the 18C following two axes from the paddock, one in the direction of Ploemeur, via the rue du Port, an another one towards Hennebont via the Rue Maréchal Foch. It is around the Church of St. Louis, which was in the extension of the Rue Maréchal Foch, that all the administrative, educational, social and commercial spots are concentrated today.

The Church of St. Louis escapes the rule by being built along a north-west – southeast axis. The Church is elevated in the axis of old Rue du Morbihan (current Rue Maréchal Foch). Revamped several times, the Church is truly completed in 1830, with the construction of the Bell Tower. which also served as a flashing light.

The new Church of Notre-Dame-de-Victoire, the seat of the parish of Saint-Louis, is a church located by the place Alsace Lorraine. It was completed in 1955 after the bombing that had destroyed in 1943 the Church of St. Louis b.1810-30. It is the most important parish in the country of Lorient. The dedication to Notre-Dame-de-Victoire refers to the city’s English siége in 1746.  Made of concrete, the steeple culminates at 54 meters high, and is the highest point of Lorient. The access to its summit is done by means of a staircase of 270 steps.

lorient ch St Louis front may21

Let me tell you a bit of history and details on the Church Notre Dame de Victoire or Saint Louis as I like

The former St. Louis Church  was built between 1810 and 1830. A neo-classical style, it had a bell tower that dominated the city. In 1940, the Nazis occupiers created a very vulnerable submarine base in the Atlantic. Curiously, the Royal Air Force will only start bombing once the base is finished from 1943. Under the influence of the bombs, the Church of St. Louis will be so damaged that it was abandoned to restore it.

In 1953, the request was given to rebuild a church, 400 meters from the site of the old one. It will be inspired by neo-Byzantine art by creating a large dome above the nave. The development of the place Alsace-Lorraine, who’s Church occupies one side. The construction of the Church will span three years from 1953-1955, and use materials and finishes in honor at the time, in other words the concrete left unsheathing.  The Church is placed under the patronage of Notre Dame de Victoire or Our Lady of Victory, but also, as the one she replaces, under that of Saint Louis. Our Lady of Victory, very honored by the locals since the failure of the English siege of 1746, owes to her statue in the Chapel of the Virgin.

Poor in ornamentation, this Church of Notre Dame de Victoire nevertheless possesses some interesting frescoes, works of Parisian and Breton artists. One will notice the great fresco of the apse illustrating the coronation of Virgin. The exterior of the Church also offers three stone statues ; Madonna and Child, Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens and Saint-Louis. The stained glass windows, are very succinct. The monumental porch, in the middle of the façade, is 12 meters high, it is adorned with a statue of Notre Dame.

lorient ch St Louis dome ceiling may21

As soon as the visitor enters the Church of Notre Dame de Victoire/St Louis , their gaze is struck by the chromatic contrast between the grey, almost uniform, of the nave and the rather yellow clarity of the choir. This was the will of the architects, to create a nave without many stained glass and which must remain in the shadows so that the attention of the faithful is sucked by the light of the choir. To this end, a series of glazed screen walls borders the north and south sides of the sanctuary, almost from the ground to the vault.  The Entombment,  and the Annunciation show the chromatic dominance of the two frescoes is grey, as if it were not necessary at any price to detach themselves on the concrete elevation in the background, grey too. Admittedly, it is necessary to ensure the contrast with the choir, but a distracted visitor may very well not see them by doing the round of the nave.

lorient ch St Louis mis en tombeau Christ may21

lorient ch St Louis baptismal font may21

The high Altar of the Church of Notre Dame de Victoire/St Louis is associated with the famous word of Christ, read in the Gospel according to Luke: “advance offshore, and throw your nets for fishing.” These words addressed to Simon-Peter are the prelude to the miraculous fishery. “Forward offshore” also appears on a banner clearly visible on the western façade of the Church. The side chapels are  two chapels each decorated with a large fresco. That of the Chapel of the Virgin traces elements of the life of Saint Louis, while that of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel  is rich with a biblical symbolism very moving.

lorient ch St Louis nave to altar may21

In the Chapel of the Virgin throne the statue of Our Lady of Victory, (Notre Dame de Victoire) from 1850. The city of Lorient is meant to be under the protection of Saint Mary and this statue is the illustration. In 1746, during the war of the Austrian succession, when the city was besieged by the English, the inhabitants made a vow to the Virgin. A silver statue of Notre Dame was created. It will disappear in the French revolution and be replaced in 1850. In 1943, the statue was removed intact from the rubble of the Church of St. Louis, which was interpreted as a sign of the protection of Our Lady of Victory over the city. The Virgin sits on the city walls. From her scepter, she made depart the British leopard.

The previous Church of Saint Louis had in 1838 the first instrument built by the young factor prodigy Aristide Cavaillé–Coll, recently installed in Paris, rue Notre-Dame de Lorette.  Bretagne was the breeding ground for Aristide since if Lorient is his first organ delivered in France, Pontivy is the third , after Notre-Dame de Lorette Church in Paris, and Dinan the fourth ,and so on.  In 1959, a new large organ with 48 stops on three keyboards and pedals was built and installed by the Roethinger company in Schiltigheim (Bas-Rhin). In 1965, the Roethinger house installed the 12-stop choir organ with mechanical transmission. It was not until 2001 that a complete restoration of the instrument was carried out as of today.

lorient ch St Louis organ back front door may21

I keep writing the double name of Notre Dame de Victoire and Saint Louis because as the new Church was really given the name of ND de Victoire, the locals still refers to it as Saint Louis therefore ,the title of my post! ok It is worth the detour for the contrast of a modern Church to many old ones we have around here.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The city of Lorient heritage on the church

The Bretagne region tourist board on Lorient

The Morbihan dept 56 Tourist Board on Lorient

And there you go folks, now come and see the nice Church of Notre Dame de Victoire or Saint Louis ,and lovely city of Lorient. It is worth a detour me think.

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

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