The Church of St Suliau at Sizun

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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!)

The Church of St Suliau and its Bell Tower (from the north side)
Church of St Suliau and its Bell Tower (from the north side)
The Church of St Suliau and its Sacristy (from the south east)
The Church of St Suliau and its Sacristy (from the south east)
The Church of St Suliau, Sizun

St Suliau

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.

Reliquary bust of St Suliau inside the Church, Sizun
Reliquary bust of St Suliau inside the Church, Sizun
St Suliau stained glass window in Sizun Church
St Suliau stained glass window in Sizun Church

Bell Tower

The Bell Tower dates from the early 1700s and is tall and elegant, visible for miles around.

The Bell Tower of the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
The Bell Tower of the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
A quiet corner between the Ossuary, Church, and the bottom of the Bell Tower
A quiet corner between the Ossuary, Church, and the bottom of the Bell Tower

Triumphal Arch

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.

The Bell Tower & Triumphal Arch, the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
The Bell Tower & Triumphal Arch
The Triumphal Arch, Sizun
The Triumphal Arch
The Triumphal Arch, Ossuary, and Bell Tower of the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
Triumphal Arch, Ossuary, and Bell Tower

The Ossuary

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 Triumphal Arch and Ossuary of the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
Triumphal Arch and Ossuary
The pediment over the doorway of the Ossuary, Sizun
The pediment over the doorway of the Ossuary
Some of the Apostles on the Ossuary, Sizun
Some of the Apostles on the Ossuary

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Sacristy

The 17C Sacristy has a slate roof in the shape of a ship’s hull.

The Sacristy
The Sacristy

Carvings

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.

The siren on the outside of the Ossuary, the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
The siren on the outside of the Ossuary, the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
The frieze on the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
The frieze on the Church of St Suliau, Sizun

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A Gargoyle on the Church of St Suliau, Sizun
A Gargoyle on the Church of St Suliau, Sizun

Calvary in Sizun

There must have been a calvary outside the church but all that remains is a small pi├Ęta.

The remains of the Calvary
The remains of the Calvary in Sizun

The Church of St Suliau at Sizun is an endlessly rewarding parish close. Do visit!

Further information
A good website
Parish Enclosures in the Elorn Valley

2 Responses

  1. wanderessence1025

    Your photographs of this church are stunning, Candy. I love how you so perfectly capture the details. I love the shape of this church, the Egyptian figures, the sirens, and the bell tower and triumphal arch. Wonderful.

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