The Church of St Suliau at Sizun

The Church of St Suliau in Sizun is, in my view, one of the 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.

The Church complex is spread out and 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)

The 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 was actually a Welsh saint, Saint Tysilio, I believe, who lived in the 6C-7C in Wales, but eventually came to Brittany, where he died. In Sizun he is remembered in several statues both inside and outside the Church.

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

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

The Triumphal Arch was built 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) which could be used for preaching to the public outside the church, but unfortunately the end of the arch and and enclosing wall, and the end of the Arch, were lost when the road was widened in recent years – 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 Church of St Suliau, Sizun

The Triumphal Arch, Sizun

The Triumphal Arch, Sizun

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

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

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

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

The 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. The 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 pediment over the doorway of the Ossuary, Sizun

The pediment over the doorway of the Ossuary, Sizun

Some of the Apostles on the Ossuary, Sizun

Some of the Apostles on the Ossuary, Sizun

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

The Sacristy, the Church of St Suliau, Sizun

The Sacristy, the Church of St Suliau, Sizun

The buildings are decorated with carvings – gargoyles, a curious frieze, and statues – a wonderful mix of sacred and secular. In particular there are a number of ‘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

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

The remains of the Calvary, the Church of St Suliau, Sizun

The remains of the Calvary, the Church of St Suliau, Sizun

Do visit!

Further information
A good website
Parish Enclosures in the Elorn Valley