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Brittany

Breton "Enclos"

Parish enclosure

Located in the center of town, the parish 'enclos' (close) is a place considered sacred by the inhabitants of Breton villages.

Every Sunday, townspeople join all those who are close to them; both the living and the dead.

This institution is common in Brittany, but the monuments that are most remarkable are found between Leon and Cornouaille. The typical 'enclos' is composed of four standard elements: the cemetery, the church, the ossuary and the calvaire. 

Parish enclosureChurch

The enclosure is surrounded by a half-wall of stone closed with an often beautiful and well-proportioned gate.

Other more discreet walkways are arranged in the enclosure. A paving stone (when they still exist) standing on one end requires the visitor to climb over it.

It has been believed for a long time that the stone was there to keep animals out, but no one is sure about that.

After all, the Breton peasant came to say his prayers with his cow on a tether. Fifty years ago, dogs ran free in church.

The Virgin Mary

Churches and chapels often contain unsuspected treasures, astonishing rude screens, truly beautiful stained glass windows, moving votives, sumptuous organ cases, baptistries and banners, wooden retables or marvelously painted stone ones, but most of all, astonishing statues of saints.

At Landenau, a church contains the only wooden statue we know of in all Christianity of the Virgin Mary with her breast uncovered (she is lying down).                                                          The rest in pictures

The rest in pictures

Our Advice :
Don't hesitate, in case there are crowds, to skip the most well-known "enclos". The smallest little town, away from major highways, offers its own stone sanctuary.

If the "enclos" is still available for visits, you may have to ask for the key from the neighboring church.

 

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