Vannes Cathedral, Vannes
1 reviews from the community
Review of "Vannes Cathedral, Vannes"
I absolutely love old buildings, especially religious buildings - I love the architecture, the stories of the people that lived there, the way towns evolve around them, so when I visited the beautiful walled city of Vannes in Brittany, it was an absolute given that I'd be taking a trip into the cathedral there, which I have to say is one of the most stunning I have ever seen.
Location22 rue des Chanoines, 56000, Vannes, France
+33 2 97 47 10 88
We travelled in by car, and although the route to Vannes was very clearly signposted, we did have difficulty finding somewhere to park once we got into the city due to it being rather busy, driving around for about ten minutes before eventually finding a 'payant' parking area. With the Cathedral being in the medieval part of the city, you won't find any parking in the immediate vicinity anyway, so expect to have a bit of a walk from wherever you do park. The cathedral is clearly signposted, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding it once you do get parked.
Opening HoursThe Cathedral is open to visitors year round, but it is not possible to visit when a service is in progress. It's also very much a working church, and signs politely request that you remain quiet and respectful during your visit. During our visit there were several people praying, lighting candles for loved ones, or simply enjoying a moment of quiet reflection.
There is no entry fee to visit the cathedral, but there are boxes around the church where you can leave a donation, either as payment for a votive or candle, or for the information leaflets, which are available in both French and English, and cost 20 cents each. I didn't see any kind of donation box specifically for entrance to the cathedral, however I just popped a few extra euros into the votive box. With many cathedrals un the UK having an entrance fee, or a 'suggested donation' that you always feel slightly bad for not paying because of the sweet old lady manning the box, there is nothing like that here - you can simply walk in, and enjoy looking around.
My ThoughtsThis is a real wow of a cathedral - right from the moment you walk in through the magnificent neo gothic gateway with it's statue of St Vincent Ferrier. As you walk in, right ahead of you is the magnificent main altar, with many side chapels leading off from the sides, all adorned with devotional candles casting a lovely warm light through the building. Fresh flowers give the cathedral a sweet floral smell, and stained glass windows all through the building cast rainbow lights on the walls.
You can either walk right down the centre towards the main altar, or do what we did and head either left or right and make a circuit of the entire cathedral - I'd personally recommend the latter, as each part of this cathedral has something to focus on. Going round anti clockwise, the first point of interest is the chapel of the baptismal font, which celebrates the spirit of baptism with a magnificent mural and stained glass window, followed by the chapel of St Anne, the patron saint of Brittany,and the patron saint of unmarried women, housewives, women in labor, grandmothers, horseback riders, and cabinet-makers! The splendid gilded marble altar, fronted by tall devotional votive jars bearing Annes likeness, make this a lovely little quiet space to sit and think.Continuing along a little more, you come across the Chapel of the Blessed Pierre René Rogue. This chapel I found particularly fascinating, as it contained a relic, something I've not often come across in UK churches (probably something to do with the reformation!) and not a tiny one either, but rather the body of Pierre Rene Rogue himself lies beneath the altar, lying on a cushion, with wax detailing on his hands and face. I'd never heard of him before visiting the Cathedral, but thankfully a fact sheet from a pile left on the altar told me a little about him. He was a local of Vannes, who began studying for the priesthood in 1776. However, during the French revolution that began in 1789, priests across France were called upon to swear allegiance to the French government rather than the church itself. Pierre refused, first going to live with his mother but then going into hiding until until 1795, when Vannes issued a full pardon to any priest who had refused the oath. However, an employee of Pierres mother accused Pierre of still being in opposition to the new French government, and Pierre was arrested on Christmas eve whilst giving the last rites to a dying man, and he was guillotined alongside another priest in Vannes market square on march 3rd 1796. He was beatified in april 1934 as a martyr.
For me it was really fascinating to see this relic - I'd seen such things in books before, but it was my first time really seeing something like this in person, and I was very impressed by the peaceful, kind expression on the mans face, and by the quiet atmosphere of this chapel.However, Pierre René is not the only saint who rests here, nor is he the most famous - that honour goes to Vincent Ferrer who rest almost directly across the church, with most of his body housed in a magnificent tall marble tomb, as high as an altar itself. I say most of his body, because on a plinth next to the tomb sits a bust of the man himself, atop a casket which contains his head, and an elaborate silver reliquary set into an alcove in the wall also contains relics of the saint. Vincent seems to have been destined for greatness from birth - apparently his mother felt no pain when birthing him, and his father was told in a dream that his son would become famous throughout the world by a dominican friar! He's particularly famous for converting a large number of Jews to Catholicism (although some Jewish sources claim he used less than admirable methods, including harassment and intimidation, as well as for persuading many Spaniards to support Antipope Clement VII during the Western Schism. He died in Vannes in 1419 and was buried in the cathedral, although quite why they felt the need to separate him into different boxes I don't understand! Doesn't seem terribly dignified, but this chapel has plenty of information on his life and is very interesting to visit.
This is by no means all there is to see in the cathedral - the treasury area is well worth a look as there are some very old and beautiful artifacts on display, as well as lots more information about the church, and all the various side chapels have points of interest, but if I told you everything I saw that day this review would run on to pages!
ConclusionAll in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Vannes Cathedral, it's a truly beautiful church with so much to see, plenty of historical information available for those who love to learn, and it was truly fascinating for me to learn about the two Saints housed here in particular. Considering there is no charge for entry (Though I did light a candle or two and donate accordingly) this is a very worthwhile trip out even if you are on the tightest of shoestring budgets!
Product Information : Vannes Cathedral, Vannes
Manufacturer's product descriptionAbbey/Monastery
Listed on Ciao since: 18/08/2017