The Calvary in Plougastel-Daoulas was built in 1602-04 to commemorate the end of the bubonic plague epidemic and is all that was left intact (mainly) of the original Enclos Parroissial after bombing in WWII in 1944. This photograph from 1927 shows the original building and it is clear that the wall of the church opposite the Calvary (in the photograph below) is a restoration of the original, with the new church added behind. (More photographs of the original Church of St Peter here.)
The Calvary has an octagonal base, and above that a frieze of rather ‘stiff’ figures. Above the frieze are the substantial, free-standing statues, and in the middle of the Calvary, towering above the figures, the three double-sided crosses. There are 180 figures carved on the monument, depicting scenes from the life of Christ. The monument was also damaged in WWII but one of the American soldiers, John D Skilton, a trained art historian, put the broken statues in storage locally and then after the war raised money for the restoration of the Calvary.
The east side portrays and birth and death of Christ. While some of the figures and groups are somewhat ‘stiff’ don’t you just love the little nuzzle of the donkey? Tilting its head towards Joseph? The free-standing statues seem to be ‘human’, with different expressions on their faces.
The north face deals with Christ’s suffering.
The south face portrays the stations of the cross.
The west face deals with the resurrection.
This monument is a photographic challenge. There are some wonderful old photographs here, particularly by Eugène Lefèvre-Pontalis, an important Mediaeval archaeologist. Sadly photographs by the extraordinary Georges Estève are no longer accessible on the database.
The Calvary of Plougastel-Daoulas
John D Skilton
The Crosses & Calvaries of Finistere
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