Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Pol-de-Léon, a bishopric established in the 6th century and abolished under the Concordat of 1801, when its territory was transferred to the Diocese of Quimper.
It is dedicated to its 6th-century founder, the first bishop Saint Paul Aurelian. He was originally from Wales and he is considered to have been the first bishop of the Léon area.
Built on the site of an ancient Roman church, some vestiges of which still exist. This great monument has been constructed in several stages. The present building however, although on the same site, was built in the 13th century (with later additions). The facade with its two high towers and the remarkable nave from the 13th century made of limestone from Caen, limestone demonstrate this stylistic and economical heritage from Normandy. The western façade and the south porch date back from the 13th century whereas the chancel (choir made of granite) and the transept are from the beginning of the 15th century. The cathedral was completed in the second half of the 16th century (the ambulatory and the southern chapel). It also has an ensemble which is almost unique in Brittany
The 50-metre spires are from the end of the 14th century. In the 16th century, side chapels gave it its definitive stature. The cathedral is 80 metres long in total, 16-metre height under the vaults and 44 metres wide with the transepts. In the north tower, there are three bells which date from more than three centuries ago, including the oldest bourden bell in Brittany, which weights more than 2 tonnes, and was cast in 1563.
Beyond its great architectural significance, the cathedral shelters a multitude of unusual artistic curiosities. The great organ in the cathedral was built between 1657 and 1660 by the English refugees Robert and Thomas Dallam. It is composed of 2118 pipes and it is listed. There are also relics, amongst them Paul Aurélien Celtic bell, one of the oldest Carolingian bell in Brittany and, in a crystal tube, a thorn from the Christ crown. The interesting detail are also 32 boxes containing skulls, a reminder of the custom in use until the 19th century, which consisted in exhuming the skeletons after five years in order to make room to the new deceased. The bones were carefully laid down in the charnel house and the skulls were locked up in small pierced boxes and they were then handed over to the families.There is also a a Roman sarcophagus which is thought to be the sepulture of Conan Mériadec, first Christian king of Brittany, who died in 421.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.