The Notre-Dame du Kreisker Chapel of Saint Pol de Léon !!

This is another first by yours truly the road warrior, Well Bretagne has a bunch and I am working on it, We had time so we continue our ride into Saint-Pol-de-Léon , another beauty of the Finistère department,29 in my lovely Bretagne, in my belle France. The town of Saint Pol de Léon takes its current name from one of the legendary founder saints of Brittany in the 6C: Saint Pol Aurélien. Therefore, let me tell you about this wonderful monument, a must to see in town; the Notre Dame du Kreisker Chapel of Saint Pol de Léon !!

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel belltower jun22

A bit long but worth it me think, I had to run to on site information, books, and many from wikipedia as the volume of information is huge. Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Notre-Dame du Kreisker Chapel, gateway to the episcopal city of Saint-Pol-de-Léon, is a major monument of Breton religious architecture, “The boldest piece of architecture he had ever seen” according to Vauban en route to Roscoff, Its 78 meters high granite bell tower, the highest Gothic monument in Brittany, is the prototype of many Breton up-to-date bell towers. The chapel is 36,5 long and 18,2 meterswide. The height, long underestimated by indirect measurements, was found in 1884 to be 78 meters, The pillars measure under the capital 8,5 meters, the choir under the keystone 11 meters, the tower up to the gallery, 40,2 meters, the spire without the cross,38 meters, the pinnacles, 16 meters. The gallery of the tower measures 8,8 meters on a side. My boys in front !!!

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel front et boys jun22

A collegiate church dedicated to the Marian cult, the Kreisker welcomed pilgrims from the Tro Breiz. The pride of the merchant corporations that financed and decorated it, it served as a city/town hall for the three orders and as a chapter house for the bourgeois brotherhoods of the 14-15-16C and then, on occasion, a psallette, as a chapel from 1680 to a seminary, renamed in 1784 Collège de Léon, before being ruined by the French revolution. The foundation of the chapel dates back to the 6C, at the time of the mission of Paul Aurélien. It was given the name Kreis-ker because it was located in the center of a nearby village, a suburb of the city. In 1277, a century after its dismemberment in 1180 by Henry II and his son Geoffroy Plantagenêt, and forty-two years after its lost war of independence, the county of Léon was annexed to Brittany by Duke Jean le Roux, who cleverly conferred its suzerainty in perpetuity on the Bishop of Leon.

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel nave to altar jun22

The transept, the north elevation of the choir and the chevet date from the second half of the 14C. The perpendicular style to the strain of the tower and certain architectural elements clearly bear witness to the influence from across the English Channel. The western façade dates from this end of the 15C, Could the tower have been used from this time as a lookout point facing the sea and the surrounding lands, was a question asked by many historians, A medieval room located above the current northern porch, and prior to it, is an intact witness of a mysterious room now in ruins which could, at the end of the 14C, be a lodging for a captain . It has a fireplace, cupboards, latrines and offers a line of surveillance on the main street. Its access was through a door leading to the interior of the church. It overlooked a guard room which commanded the main gate of the city, the Porte Saint Guillaume, and of which only traces remain in particular an archer. It may later, in the 15C, serve as a prison, archive room, treasury or armory.

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel side street jun22

In the 15C, the tower was crowned with a floor intended for the bells and a fabulous octagonal spire confined by four storied bell towers. The bell tower, which rises 78 meters above the ground, is typically Norman , The work was completed between 1439 and 1472, Another masterpiece, the northern portal, was made at the same time , The southern porch is also from the 15C but has elements of modernity that its counterpart does not have. There sit the corporations of shipowners, merchants, craftsmen, sculptors, goldsmiths, tailors, who each have their altar rented to a chapelry, that is to say a foundation established by will by some wealthy and pious character for his salvation. The nave must also have served as a stock exchange. Like a shopping arcade, the two porches face each other and open out next to the Grand-Rue.(today rue Gén Leclerc)..The ND du Kreisker Chapel , also served as a place for ceremonies, monthly festivals and prayers specific to the many brotherhoods that have their headquarters there. , such as the Brotherhood of the Dead of Saint Paul founded on April 21, 1513, Several times destroyed by the Normans at the end of the High Middle Ages and then by the English during the War of Succession of Brittany, the church is from the Renaissance the subject to multiple repairs.

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel lateral to 7 saints jun22

After the vicissitudes of the French revolution, the spire was saved from demolition by a decree signed in 1807 by Napoleon I at the camp of Friedland and restored by order of the Emperor because of its vital interest for navigation: its bell tower serves then better. In the 19C, the Notre Dame de Kreisker Chapel regained its school function and was assigned to the Collège du Léon, successor in 1784 to its namesake at the University of Paris, The ND de Kreisker Chapel is property of the city, and was renovated in 1993 but several years later, under the effect of humidity, the bottom of the interior walls crumbled several meters high and several centimeters deep. Since 1997, the association “Friends of the Kreisker Chapel”, 1 rue des Vieilles Ursulines, has organized exhibitions and oversees the maintenance and restoration of religious buildings in the city.

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel founding saints of brittany jun22

With the carved oak panels of the 17C in the high altar and the 17C Visitation Altarpiece visible inside the church, the north porch is a must-see. Flamboyant in style, it is much more worked than the south porch, contrary to the tradition of the time. It is surmounted by a triangular pediment where the coats of arms of the donors were once located, destroyed during the French revolution. At the very top stands a 15C Madonna and Child, which served as a model for the more modern one inside the church, which was a Marian shrine. On the entrance arcade, ten statuettes of patriarchs unfurl a scroll. The doors are surmounted by multiple foliage, statuettes, imaginary monsters and domestic animals… The southern porch, later, is less open but it opens onto a square, now a car park, which was cleared in 1888 of the hovels that encumbered it. It is surmounted by an openwork balcony called blessing. It is reached by a staircase that runs along the western facade; built in the 15C, it shows a tourmaline granite whose very fine grain is characteristic of the Sainte-Catherine site, western gap of the truce of Mespaul, in the Haut Leon. Its semicircular archivolt above the pointed arch prefigures the Renaissance and the Tudor style. It superimposes above the floor of the crossing of the transept four successive constructions, the pillars of the 13C, the tower rebuilt in the middle of the 14C, the actual belfry erected at the end of the 14C, the spire of the 15C. Its style is influenced by that of the great Norman cathedrals The bell tower rests entirely on four massive pillars of three meters on each side located inside the chapel, from which spring four lancet warheads, Also to be noted that the spire has four dormer windows on its north, east, south and west faces of a height similar to that of the pinnacles. Another peculiarity of the Kreisker is undoubtedly the caution shown by the architect with the narrow staircase of one hundred and sixty-nine steps leading to the bell tower, The tower is now silent but it did indeed house several bells.

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel of the Visitation jun22

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel of the Virgin jun22

The interior, which once had more than twenty private or domestic chapels, is now very bare. During the French revolution, the armored stained glass windows, the bells, the statues disappeared. In the south porch, the statues of Saint Christopher and Saint Jacques are vanished. In the middle of the 20C, these same stalls as well as the preaching pulpit, an anonymous work from the 18C, were dismantled. Restored, it was put back in place in December 1975. The Baroque altar of Notre-Dame is still visible inside, a 17C painting and an altarpiece dating from 1684, including the painting, a copy of a painting of the Albane preserved at the beginning of the 20C in Bordeaux, has for its subject the Visitation, and which was transferred there in 1807 from the chapel of the convent of the Minimes destroyed, because it threatened ruin, to serve as material for Kreisker repairs.

Damaged by pebbles from rascals of all periods, neglected by the descendants of their donees from the 18C, the stained glass windows of the fifty-six windows, because they are emblazoned and bear the signs of privileges, are, by municipal decree, systematically hammered in early 1794, during the French revolution. The Friends of Kreisker association signed the agreement with the city/town hall and the Heritage Foundation for a call for public subscription on the amount of the work in 2013. Inaugurated in 2014, the contemporary stained glass window colored in the mass suggests the divine mystery, highlighted by color symbolism: red for the Holy Spirit, yellow for joy, blue for purity. In 2015, the stained glass won the first departmental prize of the Ribbons of Heritage.

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel by entrance rosary with virtues jun22

Saint Pol de Leon ND du Kreisker Chapel pulpit jun22

The city of Saint Pol de Léon on its main heritage :

The Roscoff tourist office on St Pol de Léon

There you go folks, one of the must see monuments in Saint Pol de Léon!  As said, we will be back,eventually, this is worth the detour me think. For now enjoy the Notre Dame du Kreisker Chapel!

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


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