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Minor sacred heritage

Minor sacred heritage

It is always worth looking out for details in our urban surroundings, minor heritage pieces that often escape notice yet which also reveal key information about rites and worship.

Niches, recesses and statues

Several homes in Douarnenez have niches or recesses in their walls, in which you can often still see little statuettes, often made from the famous, hand-painted Faïence ceramic of Quimper. These statues were usually there to protect the residents against epidemics and illness. You can see examples in the streets of Hervé Julien, Jean Jaurès, Ernest Renan and Saint-Michel.

Beside the beach of Pors Cad, on the buildings of Stella Maris, you will see a Virgin and Child. The Patron Saint stands upright on the stem of a granite sloop, blessing the sea to protect the sailors. The congregation of Notre-Dame de la Mer was created in 1894 to help the poorest local families and to bring together the fishermen. They wore the medal of the Virgin and were therefore nicknamed ‘the medal guys’. The congregation ordered this  2.5-metre, cast-iron sculpture in 1899 and it was initially placed on top of a mill, then was raised to sit on this building in 1949.

Cemeteries

Tréboul Cemetery overlooks the sea and represents a heritage landscape, a constant reminder of the perils at sea. Countless widows have come here to pray at the gravestones of their lost husbands. Cemeteries were visited frequently, serving as places of worship but also as meeting places. In this cemetery you will find the graves of writer Georges Perros, and the writer and poet John Antoine Nau (first-ever winner of the Prix Goncourt).

Ploaré Cemetery has a triumphal archway that is also a monument to those who died in World War One. A bas-relief shows a female factory-worker, weeping. One of the graves is topped by a beautiful marble sculpture of a Breton woman and her son. Among the graves here, you will find those of Dr Laënnec (inventor of the stethoscope), actor Noël Roquevert, Jean Marin, the voice of Free France.

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