Chapelle Saint-Nicodème

Chapelle Saint-Nicodème, Plumeliau

Chapelle Saint-Nicodème
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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15 reviews
Very good

Auray, France43 contributions
A treasure in the middle of the fields
Jan 2017
You can notice its arrow from far away even though this chapel in the middle of nowhere stands in a small valley. A pleasure to the eyes built at a time when each hamlet wanted to show their religiosity and their wealth to their neighbours! Absolutely to be visited!
Written April 1, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Exeter, UK5 contributions
The onyly chapel open !
Jul 2016 • Couples
Worth a visit, especially as this was the only rural chapel we have found open so far. Polychrome altar pieces
Written July 3, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Oak Park, Illinois223 contributions
A beautiful surprise in rural central Brittany.
Jul 2015 • Couples
Almost every little town and village in France has its historic church or chapel, and most of them are pretty enough, but especially inside the religious artwork lovingly created in previous generations and centuries has faded over the years or even been willfully damaged or destroyed by sometimes-well-intentioned "reformers" of all stripes. Often the historicity of what remains or the cost of repair makes it impossible to return it to the state intended originally. NOT SO with the chapel of Saint Nicodème and his fountains in the little village of Saint-Nicodème in the commune of Pluméliau [about 5km northwest of the town of Pluméliau just off the D1] in the Morbihan department of Brittany that we discovered by happy accident. (For those not familiar with France, that might be seen as the equivalent to a village in a town[ship] in a county in a region.)

St. Nicodème (Nicodemus) to whom the chapel is dedicated to is a protector of flocks and herds (or according to some sources, specifically horses or pigs), and sometimes seen as a companion of St. Nicholas. The chapel was built between 1520 and 1539, according to at least one story at the command of St. Nicodème himself.

The chapel is cruciform, with a 48-meter-tall [about 150'] flamboyant-Gothic bell tower and western porch with touches of Renaissance fleurs-de-lis in the door below. The north and south porches on the transept are relatively simple.

Inside the chapel there are four altars, the main altar in the east, and side altars in the north and south transepts and in the center of the nave.

— The altar in the center of the nave is the smallest and what appears to be the oldest of the four. The scene in the altar-piece/reredos/retable is the women visiting the tomb on Easter Sunday with an angel inside and two Roman soldiers recovering their wits, with the Father and Holy Spirit looking down and Jesus surmounting the whole. There is what looks like a tabernacle between the altar and the scene, but it seems not to be one.

— The altar in the north transept has St. Pierre just above the altar and St. Isidore (the Farmer) above; the latter lived in the 11th and 12th centuries and was canonized in the 17th. The altar in the south transept features Notre Dame de Lorette (Loreto/Loretto) with an image I have yet to identify above that. Loreto and the Holy House there have been a pilgrimage site since the 1290s, one with papal privileges. Flanking it on the left is St. Cornelie (or Corneille in French and Cornelius in English, sometimes also Cornély in Brittany: presumably from the tiara, the pope in the early 250s who succeeded St. Fabian and died in exile; he also is known as a protector of animals, in particular cattle and horses according to one source), with an empty niche on the right. If the Roman connection isn't clear enough already, the columns on either side of the transept altars holding up the upper levels echo those in Bernini's baroque Baldacchino in St. Peter's Basilica, completed in 1634.

— The complicated central altar features the Deposition of the Body of Jesus after the Crucifixion. That is surmounted by a statue of St. Nicodème. The connection is that Nicodemus, the Pharisaic member of the Sanhedrin who visited Jesus in secret for fear of the other members, helped Joseph of Arimathea [also a Sanhedrin member] bury Jesus in royal fashion. Flanking the deposition scene are two statues I haven't yet identified, and Nicodème is flanked by two images that I also haven't identified. Below the left statue is a carving of the Last Supper, and below the right statue is a door, presumably leading to a sacristy.

Outside the chapel are two fountains (think in terms artesian springs rather than spraying jets), one from 1608 with three basins dedicated respectively to Sts. Nicodème, Gamaliel, and Abibon [Gamaliel's second son], and the other from 1790 to St. Cornély. Gamaliel and Abibon once shared the feast date of August 3 with Nicodème, whose feast is now August 31 with Joseph of Arimathea.

There is also an attached early-1700s chaplain's house that now serves in the summer as the welcome center and boutique for "L'art dans les chapelles" program, but it's closed on Tuesdays, the day we were there.

The Grand Pardon of St. Nicodème with its grand procession takes place here on the first Sunday of August each year.

There is even more, but this will give you a sense of what there is and a chance to discover some on your own.

Merci très spécial aux:
Promenades Bretonne, L'art dans les Chapelles, Société Vétérinaire Pratique de France [SVPF — in particular 'Les animal et les saints' by Jean-Pierre Kieffer], Baud tourism, and Pluméliau websites; Le petit monde des Don Campagno [May 10, 2014 entry] and BZH [from the Breton for Brittany] Explorer [October 13, 2008 entry] blogs; the Bulletin, Vol. 16 of the Société de géographie de Toulouse; and the book 'La Bretagne' by Sébastien Recouvrance. They are mostly in French, and if I've mistranslated anything, please forgive me and let me know.
Written September 4, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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