Sunday, 15 September 2019


A unique form of monumental public crucifix that displays scenes from the Passion, the oldest surviving examples date back to the mid thirteenth century and reflect a megalithic tradition anchored in Bretagne and spreading eastwards.
One of the first examples we encountered on a recent trip was this modern, Art Nouveau interpretation of a calvary (from Golgotha, Γολγοθᾶς, Syriac for the “Place of Skulls,” transliterated as Κρανίου Τόπος or in Latin Calvariæ Locus) in the town of Tréguier (the town of Saint Tudwal) erected by local clergy in 1904 in protest over municipal authorities choosing to honour a controversial native son, the anticlerical theological and ethnology scholar Ernest Renan with a statue provocatively in the square of the cathedral during the previous year, reserved formerly for the temporary installation of displays and processions.
Church steeples also had an interesting and individualised architectural vernacular, with flying elements and each village topped with something unique and articulated. An ancient calvary more in context we found in the churchyard of Locronan (Lokorn, the name meaning the hermitage of Rónán, a sixth century Irish missionary), and is the focal point for some of the major pardons, a Breton form of ceremonial pilgrimage—held on saint days and for which an indulgence, excuse to celebrity—like Saint Patrick’s Day in the middle of Lent, is granted.