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Report 1981: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 2 Morbihan
By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011
Page 20 of 27: Josselin
Basilique de Notre-Dame-du-Roncier
Approaching Josselin from Plumelec, we drove through Guégon, a lovely settlement of granite houses and the 11/12thC Eglise St-Pierre et St-Paul, which has been rebuilt at various times. This is a plain building with a stubby tower topped with a slate roof. Inside there are massive pillars with carved tops. The central altar has a painting and statues of saints. Near the doorway is a painted reliquary box with bones from St Benigne, St Celestine and St Candice the Martyr.
We dropped down the hill into La Croix, the oldest part of Josselin. The chapel is supposed to be the oldest in Morbihan but was shut. We parked and walked across the bridge which is one of the best places to take pictures of the chateau towering above the river with its massive 14thC towers and later 16thC walls. It is a pity about the parked cars below.
Josselin is a delightful town whose wealth came from the linen industry and there are many 15/16thC timber frame houses, some with highly carved fronts as well as later stone buildings. It wasn’t as busy as we had expected. The area between the Château and Basilica is full of eateries. There is an English Bookshop selling a good range of post cards as well as books. There is also a large tourist shop selling good quality gifts.
The Basilique Notre-Dame-Du-Roncier was founded over the spot where a farm labourer found a statue of the Virgin Mary in a bush of brambles. The statue had miraculous properties and cured the farmer’s blind daughter. Stained glass windows tell the story.
Only two pillars at the east end remain from the 12thC church. One has a carving at the top of a fox chasing and catching hens. The other has a dog on it. The arch and transept square are 13thC. The rest of the church is 15thC with a few later additions. The spire was finished in 1949.
The stone altar has a statue of Notre-Dame-du-Roncier which is removed for the annual Pardon around the town. She is flanked by statues of St Dominique and St Francis.
In the north aisle is the white alabaster tomb of Olivier de Clisson and his second wife Marguerite de Rohan with two greyhounds at her feet, a sign of faithfulness. The mourning figures on the base of the tomb no longer have heads as these were removed during the Revolution. A granite grille separates the tomb from the choir.
The pulpit was made from wrought iron in the 18thC and has symbols of the four evangelists; ox (St Luke), Lion (St Mark), Eagle (St John) and young man (St Matthew).
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