The Parish Closes

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COMMANA is a small village on the edge of Monts d’Arrée. The village and church rarely get a mention in the guide books which is a shame as the church has three amazing altars.

EGLISE ST-BERRIEN is a 16/17thC building surrounded by a wall with a large but fairly simple triumphal arch, small ossuary and small calvary with the crucified Christ and two figures below. The massive granite tower is topped by a spire. The two side aisles have dormer style windows and there is a fairly simple sacristy building at the end of the south aisle.

The south porch is massive with round arches, finials and an inscription. Above the porch is an open work tower with statues and carved heads. Inside the porch are empty niches which would have held statues of the twelve apostles. The two bright red painted and carved wooden doors have a stoup between them.

Inside the church the walls are white with a blue wooden ceiling with stars and a carved wooden frieze. Statues on the pillars include St Roche showing the wound on his leg. By the south door is a 15thC carving of St John the Evangelist. An ornate doorway leads from the south aisle into the sacristy.

Above the west end is a massive carved balcony, reached by a spiral stairway.

The stone font is in a back corner and has a very decorative carved wooden canopy dated 1683. This is painted white and has gilded panels around the bottom. The pillars have painted statues representing Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice and Temperance. On the underside of the canopy is a carving of St John the Baptist. Above smaller carved bannisters support a second roof with three caryatids supporting Jesus carrying a cross.

The pulpit is 1613 and made of dark carved wood. Old banners hang from the north wall.

The most stunning feature of the church are the altars. There are two altars to the south of the high altar and one to the north. The high altar is the simplest. It is a cream table with front painted to look like marble with gilt decoration. Above are steps with a box to hold the host. These have gilt carvings and angels on either side. Above is a modern painting of the crucifixion which looks quite out of place in the church. It is framed by carved pillars with grapes and vine leaves. This is flanked by plain glass windows with a yellow decorative border.

To the right is the 17thC Retable de cinq plaices. In the centre is Christ showing his wounds. He is being crowned by two angels who are holding the crown of thorns and the nails. At the sides are statues of St Sebastian and St Margaret with her dragon. These are surrounded by carved and gilded pillars with cherubs above. On the top is the figure of God the Father holding a cross and two eagles.

Beyond this is the Retable de Rosaire with a central panel of the Virgin and Christ Child with St Catherine and St Dominic below. To either side are St Joachim and St Joseph with a shell above and pillars with grapes and vine leaves. Above that is God the Father with cherubim.

The Retable de St Anne is the north aisle and really does have the wow factor with red, gold and blue paint. It dates from 1682. In the centre, the Virgin and St Anne are watching the baby Christ who is holding a globe with a cross on it. In niches on either side are St Joachim and St Joseph, with carved red and gold pillars. Above them are the Virgin and the Angel Gabriel with cherubs. At the centre top is God the Father holding the body of the resurrected Christ, flanked by two eagles.

MOUGOU BIHAN is a short drive from Commana along a quiet country lane through the hamlet. This is a covered alley dating from 3500BC. It is in grassland to the south of the hamlet and has a large car park with picnic tables.

Large slabs of granite support the cap stones. There is a gap in the side wall large enough to squeeze through. We could just make out an axe on the end stone and two spears on the side stones.

Our pictures of Commana are here:

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