The Church of St Germain of Auxerre in Pleyben has all the elements of a parish enclosure – a Church surrounded by walls, a Triumphal Arch, monumental Calvary, South Porch, Ossuary, and Sacristy – and it dominates the centre of the town.
The Triumphal Arch (1725) is the gateway used for the dead, and marriages. On one occasion when I visited a funeral was in progress, and coffin entered and exited through this gateway. The nearby Ossuary was built in the 15C and was then restored in the 18C as a Chapel, dedicated to St Simon and St Jude. This is the oldest free-standing ossuary in Brittany.
The Sacristy was added in the 17C and looks quite different from the main body of the church, or even the Ossuary.
The Calvary was created between 1550 and 1650 and is an extraordinarily dramatic monument, mainly made in the workshop of Henry and Bastien Prigent. It was originally closer to the Church and then moved to its current position in 1738.
The South Porch is elegant and two of the statues are attributed to Roland Doré – John the Evangelist and James the Greater.
Walk round for different views: carvings on the outside of the building, and the twin towers in contrasting styles – the taller Renaissance-style tower, and the smaller tower in Gothic style. And between the towers is an elaborate stair turret.
This is a stunning enclosure, set apart, and elegant. Do not miss this sight if you are in Brittany!