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The Guimiliau Parish close (Enclos paroissial) is located at Guimiliau in the arrondissement of Morlaix in Brittany in north-western France. The parish takes its name from Saint Miliau who was beheaded in 792 on his brother's orders. He is a saint called upon by those suffering from ulcers and rheumatism.
The parish close dates from the 16th and 17th-century and comprises an "arc de triomphe" style entrance, an ossuary, a bell-tower, an elaborate porch, a funeral chapel, a cemetery and a church with a baptistery, a pulpit, altarpieces, a sacristy, an organ, and the unusual Calvary at Guimiliau. It is a listed historical monument since 1906.
The main features of the close are:
This is surmounted with statues of two cavaliers and the Virgin Mary with child.
Main article: Calvary at Guimiliau
The calvary, completed in 1588, includes statues showing 37 scenes and comprises a single cross above an octagonal base.
The bell-tower is in the "Beaumanoir" style and is flanked with a round tower.
Dating to the 17th-century, the building is decorated with stoups and bas-reliefs carved from Kersanton stone.To the left of the church porch there is a columned area which served as the original ossuary. See photograph identified as the "old ossuary". On the old ossuary wall, are some relief carvings.
The altarpiece of the Rosary dates to the 17th-century and has depictions of the Virgin Mary, saint Dominic and Sainte-Catherine of Sienna whilst various medallions tell the story of the "mysteries" of the Rosary. Twisted columns are decorated with carvings of angels and various animals and the altarpiece also has images in niches of saints Nicholas, Zachary, and the Holy Father. The Saint Miliau altarpiece includes a panel depicting Saint Miliau carrying his severed head.
The Saint Joseph altarpiece includes images of saints Anne and Elizabeth as well as Lawrence with his grill/gridiron and the tree of knowledge. The church has several processional banners and a fine ambon carved as an eagle.
This was built by Thomas Dallam in 1677. The casing is in oak with marvelous bas-reliefs. Facing the baptistery is the work "Triomphe d'Alexandre" and facing the nave the carvings include "David jouant de la harpe" and "Sainte Cécile touche l'orgue".
The baptistery dates to 1675 with a granite font. The baldachin is a fine work carved from oak with eight twisted columns decorated with birds, snails, snakes and grapes and a variety of other carvings.
This dates to 1683 and has a round conical roof dome, flanked with four semi-cupolas separated by buttresses. Above the building there is a statue of saint Miliau.
Saint Anne funeral chapel
This chapel, dedicated to the mother of the Virgin Mary, was built in 1648. It has an outside pulpit so that sermons could be delivered in the open air. Bodies were brought here prior to burial and could thus be isolated, particularly where death was from cholera or the plague.
There is a granite altar dating to 1644 inside the chapel with an altarpiece dedicated to Saint Anne. This is decorated with a carving of the Virgin Mary with child and a "Christ aux liens" (that moment when Christ stands or sits alone, his hands tied and awaiting his crucifixion). These are to the left and right of the central sculpture showing Saint Anne with her daughter.
The bulk of the porch was built between 1606 and 1617 by the Maître de Plougastel and the finishing touches were added by Roland Doré (sculptor). The porch gives access to the nave and is in a mélange of Gothic and Renaissance styles.
On the outside of the porch there are two decorated friezes and two triangular pediments completed by two narrow gargoyles. There is a niche on the façade containing a statue of Saint Miliau sat on his throne and at the very top is a "clocheton" topped with a lanteron. The voussures and piédroits of the porch's arch have carvings from the base upwards that recount stories from the Old and New Testament and these should be read by starting on the left side and moving across to the right.
These carvings start with the temptation of Eve on the left side and Adam and Eve's expulsion from paradise on the right. Next is a depiction of Eve as a mother and Adam as a labourer on the left and Caïn's murder of his brother coupled with Noah's ark on the right. Next there is a scene showing the sacrifices of Caïn and Abel on the left, with Noah collecting grapes on the right and then Noah is shown, clearly in drunken state with wine. We then move to the New Testament with the Annunciation, the Nativity juxtaposed with the visitation, followed by the Adoration of the Magi and the angels and shepherds attending Jesus' birth. Finally, on the left there is a depiction of the Flight into Egypt and on the right the Circumcision.
Inside the porch are statues of the apostles set in elaborate niches and Renaissance style daises. Under the apostles, there is a frieze with various heads depicting the cardinal sins and three reliefs. One shows a monk conducting an exorcism, another two wrestlers, and the third an amazing composition depicting God's creation of Eve.
At the end of the porch and above the two doors giving access to the church, there is a statue by Roland Doré of Christ giving a blessing ("Christ bénissant") with "termes gainé" of Adam and Eve on either side. The apostles, on the right as one leaves the church, comprise saints Peter with his key, James the Greater with pilgrim's hat and sea-shell, John, Andrew, Matthew, and James the lesser.
On the right side are depictions of saints Phillip, Bartholomew, Simon with saw, Judas with a palm leaf, Mathias with axe, and finally Thomas with set square. Of the various statues in and around the porch, Doré has been attributed with the statues in the outside niches of the monk and bishop, and the Pope as well as the statues inside the porch of saints Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon, Judas, and Thomas.
- ""Infobretagne" website with information on enclos in Brittany". Retrieved 18 April 2015.
- Mérimée PA00089998, Ministère français de la Culture. (in French) Eglise Saint-Miliau
- Eugène Royer. Guimiliau. Éditions Ouest-France.
- "Guimiliau". Retrieved 18 April 2015.
- Emmanuelle LeSeac'h. Sculpteurs sur pierre en Basse-Bretagne. Les Ateliers du XVe au XVIIe Siècle. Presses Universitaires de Rennes. ISBN 978-2-7535-3309-7.
- "Roland Doré et Les enclos paroissiaux" Booklet issued in 1988 by the Musée de Morlaix.
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