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Report 1981: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 2 Morbihan

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011

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Page 15 of 27: St Cado Island

photo by MAW


St Cado Island is a small island in the river Etal joined to the mainland by a causeway. Driving across the causeway is discouraged as there is little parking on the island. A large park is provided in the small settlement on the mainland.

On an isolated rock in the river is a former oyster farmer’s cottage, a popular photo shot.

The Welsh missionary Cado arrived here in the 6thC and established a teaching centre on the island. There is a legend that Satan helped him build a bridge across to the island on condition Satan was rewarded with the soul of the first person to cross. Cado made sure a cat was the first across.

The small island is delightful with old granite or white painted houses taking up the whole island. It is a steep climb up the cobbled street to the chapel. The present building dates from the 12thC, with the sacristy and a large side chapel added in the 19thC. In 1960 the chapel was restored as best as possible to its original state but with modern stained glass windows. The east window has a picture of St Cado with his cat and the devil. The side aisles have pictures of seaweed gathering with a horse pulling a cart piled high with seaweed. Another window shows a fisherman with two large fish.

It is a beautiful stone built structure with square pillars supporting round arches and a round arch leading to the choir with its semicircular apse. The processional banner is in the choir. There is a modern stone altar but one of the original stone altars can be seen on the south wall. The south chapel has a 16thC altar. There are statues of the Apostle Mark with a lion at his feet, St Yves holding a coin and St Roch holding a crook with a dog. A model boat hangs from the ceiling.

The chapel became a pilgrimage centre and St Cado was believed to cure deafness if the sufferer lay his head in a hollow of a large flat stone known as St Cado’s bed. You can still see the stone.

Stone steps lead up to an elaborately carved wooden gallery with a round window above.

Outside the chapel is a large 19thC calvary reached by four sets of stairs. The clergy preach a sermon from the calvary, celebrate vespers and direct the procession on the annual pardon. There is a fountain below the church near the shore and a large pool that is covered at high tide.

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