The Church of St Suliau in Sizun is, in my view, one of the most memorable Enclos Paroissiaux in Brittany. It dominates the centre of the village and has most of the ‘ingredients’ of an enclos: walled churchyard, Triumphal Arch, Church with a South Porch, Sacristy, and Ossuary. There are, sadly, only the remains of the Calvary. Inside it is glorious.
Exterior of the parish close
The Church complex is very difficult to photograph! (The third photograph is not distorted – the church is on a small hill!)
St Suliau was a Welsh saint who lived in the 6C-7C in Wales. He came to Brittany as part of the evengelising movement of monks and died in Brittany. In Sizun he is remembered in several statues both inside and outside the Church. He is also confused with Saint Tysilio.
The Bell Tower dates from the early 1700s and is tall and elegant, visible for miles around.
The Triumphal Arch dates from 1585-90 and dominates the centre of the village. It has an upper gallery, accessed by a stair (similar to the Triumphal Arch at La Martyre). The gallery could be used as an outdoor pulpit. Unfortunately the end of the arch, stair to the gallery, and part of enclosing wall were destroyed when the road was widened. It is a real shame, as I think this is the most beautiful Arch in Brittany.
An Ossuary of1585-88 is both a striking and a curious building. The Rohan coat of arms is over the door, with yet another statue of St Suliau. Apostles line the front of the building, rather than stand in the South Porch, and below, between the windows, are curious, almost Egyptian-looking figures.
The 17C Sacristy has a slate roof in the shape of a ship’s hull.
Carvings decorate the outside of the building – gargoyles, a curious frieze, and statues – a wonderful mix of sacred and secular. I particularly like the ‘sirens’ – fantastical fish-tailed maidens.
Calvary in Sizun
There must have been a calvary outside the church but all that remains is a small pièta.
The Church of St Suliau at Sizun is an endlessly rewarding parish close. Do visit!