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Report 1982: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 3 Northern Finistère

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011

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Page 29 of 32: St-Herbot Church - An undiscovered gem

photo by

Rood screen

St-Herbot is a small settlement just off the main road that runs along the southern edge of Monts d’Arrée. It is a neat and well kept village with a lot of money. A marquee was being set up for the Annual Butter Festival the following Sunday and there was a collection of old butter churns near the church. 

The main reason to visit is the church, which is delightful. It was built between the 14-16thC. It has a massive square tower. Entry is either up steps to the north door or else through the porch on the south side. There is a small ossuary to the right of the porch. 

The porch is a splendid structure with three carved arches surrounding the opening with figures carved on them. Above is God the Father with two angels. Inside are carvings of the twelve apostles, still with traces of paint on them. The ceiling ribs are painted red and there is the remains of a painting of an angel. Above the double doors is a statue and a carved inscription.

Inside attention is immediately caught by the massive carved rood screen with a scene of the calvary. Along the bottom are highly carved panels with ornate pillars and more carved and painted panels above. These have people or motifs. Above these on the choir side are carved heads and shoulders. At the top is the crucifixion scene with Christ nailed to the cross. On either side of him are the two robbers who have their arms tied to their cross and are trying to support themselves by looping their arms over the cross and resting their foot on the base. A figure of the weeping Mary Magdalene is clutching the cross with the Virgin Mary and St John on either side. Angels are catching the blood from Christ’s hands in cups. Skulls and bones are piled up under each of the crosses.

On the nave side of the rood screen is a stone table with three offerings of twisted cow hair to St Herbot who is the patron saint of cattle. 

There is a carved stone stoup by the door and a modern font at the back of the church. The walls of the nave are whitewashed. The ceiling is wood and painted blue. It has massive wooden beams and arches across for support. These have the remains of paintings on them. The side aisle at the back has a stone ceiling with carved bosses and shields. 

The south altar is a highly carved table with an altar rail round it. On either side are statues of St Corentin and St Yves, both in boxes with the doors open. St Yves has two statues carved on the inside of the doors. The high altar is a simple stone table with a carved host box above. To the left is a statue of Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle in an open box with paintings of saints on the doors. To the right is St Herbot. The north altar is carved wood with two statues but looks less used.

There are old wooden choir seats with misericords and an old wooden lectern. There is a granite slab with a carving of St Herbot. 

There is no pulpit or organ. On a pillar in the nave is a 15thC carving of the pieta and there is a small statue of a priest with a communion cup. 

The north and south stained glass windows in the choir are dated 1556.

his is another undiscovered gem which doesn’t feature in the guide books and gets few visitors. It is well worth finding.

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