The Churches of Auray!

And on this wonderful tour of updating my older posts and including some new ones in the new era of travel I come to my first main city when moving to the beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne. This was Auray, a town still very much visited and enjoy. I did a post sort of an introduction to the churches of Auray. I like to update it trying not to repeat the pictures I have in the many other posts on Auray in my blog. Hope you enjoy it as I.

I take you to the churches of Auray on a Sunday.  In France we have thousands, and Brittany leads the way been one of the most if not the most traditional region of France. I happened to have inititally lived here in Auray a historical town of many nations and with plenty of churches. I have written many posts on Auray and bits on them, but believe a full post on just the Churches is merité n’est pas? So,therefore, here they are the Churches of Auray! I moved but only by 12 km (about 7 miles) lol!

The town is surrounded by the towns of Crac’h to the south and west, Brech to the north, and Pluneret to the east. It is crossed by a small coastal river, the Auray river, which leads into the Gulf of Morbihan. The port of Saint-Goustan is at the bottom of the valley, east of the river. The port of Saint-Goustan is at the origin of the city. It is located on the Auray river, at the most upstream point that can reach the sea ships with the help of the tide. It received high seas vessels until the 19C. It was, also a port of cargo active in the direction of Spain and Great Britain. Its decline as a trading port with the arrival of the railway in 1862. Today it is a marina and a stopover of the tourist circuit of the tour of the Gulf of Morbihan

Auray is a place name, originating from a Breton name of a person, mentioned for the first time in 1069, Alrae, then in 1168 Alrai, in Breton An Alré. The national road N165 Vannes-Lorient bypass the center of Auray by the north. In 1989, the construction of the Kerplouz viaduct on the N 165 (voie express) in 4 lanes above the Auray river downstream of Saint-Goustan removes the agglomeration of transit traffic. The train station of Auray is located more than two km north of the city center. This is the station that I took  and later Vannes on my trips to Paris-Montparnasse via TGV.

What Churches are in Auray? well several and will start with the main one. 

The Church of St Gildas (see posts) owes its name to a 12C priory which depends on the Benedictine abbey of the Rhuys Peninsula. The work started in 1623 ,it bears the date of 1636 on the three gables and was consecrated in 1641 ,but is only completed in 1663. This Church is a sober building, except for the two porches of Renaissance and Baroque style.  The whole dates from the 17C 18C, 19C and Baroque style .Located at Place Gabriel Deshayes.

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The Chapelle du Saint-Esprit (Holy Spirit). 13C, it is the last vestige of the commandery of the Order of the Holy Spirit of Montpellier. In the 14C, this convent and hospitable house of the Holy Spirit at Auray would have become one of the principals of France, with, under its authority, some fifty foundations. In 1762, Pope Clement XIII abolished the order of the Holy Spirit. The city installed the headquarters of the General Hospital, then, in 1790, a military hospital. At the beginning of the 19C, what remained of the buildings was transformed into a permanent barracks. Important works transformed the chapel as seen before the restoration of 1990-1994. It will take the name of Duguesclin Barracks. The present restitution allows this building to regain its original volumes: a single vessel with five bays and a flat bedside ; an unusual silhouette in Brittany. It is a site of many cultural presentation exhibits etc today. Located at Place du Four Mollet. The Morbihan dept 56 tourist board on the chapel: https://www.morbihan.com/auray/chapelle-du-saint-esprit/tabid/12562/offreid/7e87038d-cd73-49e0-a688-32991827b894

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Chapelle du Père Éternel (Chapel of the Eternal Father). This Chapel is the last testimony of the convent built from 1644 to welcome the Franciscan sisters. They arrive at Auray in the early 17C to hold a girls’ school. Hunted in 1792 during the French Revolution, the convent and thus the Chapel are abandoned and serve different uses. These monuments retook their original function in 1807 with the arrival of the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis. The Chapel contains beautiful 18C carved panelling and stalls. Located at Rue du Pére Eternel.

The Chapelle Sainte-Hélène , built in the 15C is one of the oldest monuments in the city of Auray. It is known in the course of history under four names: Chapel of Notre-Dame, name under which she was blessed; Chapel of the hospital, in reference to the hotel Dieu which it served; Chapel of the Augustines, name from the hospital nuns in charge of the sick; and Chapelle Sainte-Hélène, name given by the locals to their Chapel. This Chapel contains beautiful 18C carved stalls from the Chartreuse de Brec’h, a 19C altarpiece and woodwork. Open all year round ; Daily from 9h to 12h and from 14h to 17h30, except Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. It holds a Pardon on August 21st at 18h each year. Located at Rue Georges Clemenceau.

 

Ancient Chapel of the Congregation of men at auray. Its full name is Chapel of the Brothers of the Congregation of Men of the Immaculate Conception . It’s dated from 1672. Only the front is original. Pious craftsmen gathered there to pray to the Virgin. Before going out, observe the Tribune and its central panel. You will see the Rapture of Saint Paul , a work performed around 1672-1678 by Antoine de Bray a Parisian decorator who adorned several halls of the parliament of Brittany in Rennes. Today it welcomes the tourist office, at rue du Lait.

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The Church Charles de Blois (see posts)  begun to be built in 1929, and consecrated in 1939. Built according to a centered plan, the Church consists of a first vessel that opens onto a wider square space where the cult takes place. The wrong side is adjacent to the west.   Access to the Church is done in the east. It is a gabled façade adorned with Lombard strips. It consists of a portal in full hanger topped with a rose, and has to its left a small steeple. The main steeple is to the west of the building, it is a Cornish steeple. The roof of the building is polygonal on its central part and double slope for the remainder. The side walls are pierced with berries. The district of the train station quickly populated at the beginning of the 20C, a Church became necessary. Léon Chevassu, rector of the parish, decides to built it with private donations. And it is done very nice you can see from the train station of Auray. Located at Place Léon Chevassu.

Need to tell you the story of Charles of Blois was the son of Marguerite de Valois, sister of the king of France Philip VI, great-granddaughter, therefore, of Saint Louis, who had just been placed on the altars. His father, Guy de Châtillon, Count of Blois, was as good a Christian as brave Knight. The old chronicles point out that everything was serious, almost severe in his castle; One could have believed in a monastery rather than in the abode of a lord.  On the conflicts of the War of Succession of Brittany, the quarrels got first to an arbirtration by the king of France. King Philip VI convened his parliament in an extraordinary assembly. In July 1341, the ecclesiastical and secular peers were gathered in the united commission, presided over by the bishops of Noyon and Langres, who travelled to Brittany to study the customs of the country on the spot. The final judgment, after hearing counsel for both parties, was rendered on September 7, 1341. The right of representation was law in Brittany, Jeanne de Penthièvre, daughter of the elder brother of Jean III, inherited from her uncle by him, Charles of Blois was Duke of Brittany!!! The opposing Jean de Montfort did not wish to submit to this sentence, and the war was declared and lasted for more than twenty years!. The death in combat at the Battle of Auray of Charles de Blois ended it. On December 14, 1904, Pope Pius X solemnly recognized that the cult of blessed Charles of Blois had been maintained throughout the centuries. He was beatified then.

Another nice one I go often for visits is the Church of Saint-Sauveur (see post) located in the Saint-Goustan district of Auray. The Church, whose origin dates back to the 15C (c 1469), was largely destroyed by a fire in 1886. Rebuilt, the Church retains the original portal only.  Although the Church is under the term of Saint-Sauveur, the district is under the protection of Saint-Goustan, the patron of sailors and fishermen. Saint Goustan was born in Cornwall in 974. Kidnapped by pirates at 18 years old, wounded, he is abandoned on the island of Houat (Gulf of Morbihan) where he owes life only to Providence which provides him with fish which he uses sparingly and which each day reconstitutes (hence his legend and his representation with a fish) and the cures of St Felix, who will convert him to Christianity. He became a monk in 1025, and founded a priory on the island of Hoëdic. He rests with his friars monks in the abbey of Saint Gildas de Rhuys.(see post). On the picture below St Sauveur is on the left hand side.

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On the other side of the street stands the Notre-Dame de Lourdes Chapel  (see post) of 1878, closed, given a certain fragility. The construction of the Chapel Notre-Dame de Lourdes takes place from the winter of 1874-1875 and probably continues until 1878 (vintage of stained glass) or 1879 (the blessing by the Bishop taking place in November 1879). Victim of a fire in 1886, the structural failures leave it in disrepair.  In a Gothic style it was restored by 2020 and now open to the public again. On the picture above it is the one on the right hand side.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and worth the detour are:

The city of Auray on its heritage circuits in French: https://www.auray.fr/Ma-ville/Patrimoine/Circuits-du-patrimoine

The city of Auray on its monuments with map in French: https://www.auray.fr/Ma-ville/Patrimoine/Les-monuments-historiques

The Baie de Quiberon tourist office on Aurayhttps://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/auray

The Bretagne tourist board on Saint Goustan district of Aurayhttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/southern-brittany-morbihan-gulf/auray-port-of-saint-goustan/

There you go folks, a hugely historical city for USA and Canada as well. A gorgeous old upper city center and a magnificent district of St Goustan in the lower city! Direct trains from Montparnasse Paris , superb! Enjoy it, this is Auray.

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

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