Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 26, 2007
St. Paul slew the dragon of evil
King Childebert appointed him first bishop of Leon
St. Paul Aurelian – March 12
By TED FITZGERALD
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
Statue of Saint Pol-de-Leon stands on the slain dragon.
Later on, he was named the area's first bishop by King Childebert with a diocese encompassing the district of Leon, (from the Latin legio, a reference to the earlier presence of a Roman legion based in the area).
He is remembered in the former cathedral and town that came to be known as Saint-Pol-de-Leon.
Bishop Paul eventually retired to his beloved Ile de Batz where he died on March 12, 572 and is remembered there in the church of Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours.
There, a bishop's stole believed to have belonged to the saint, is a focus of veneration.
Saint-Pol-de-Leon is a pleasant place with a well-staffed Office de Tourisme that will gladly provide any information a traveller needs to enjoy the picturesque town and perhaps its popular nearby beaches.
Primary attraction though is the cathedral, a well-known pilgrimage destination that dominates the urban centre.
Although it lost its status as a diocesan centre in 1802, to Saint-Politains it will always be their beloved Ancienne Cath‚drale.
Begun in 1262 on earlier church foundations, today's building has been altered at intervals, but still exudes an aura of timelessness.
It's a massive twin-towered Caenstone and granite church with a broad ambulatory that connects the wide transepts and gives access to many chapels. Old stained glass windows portray events in the life of Saint-Pol.
The main objective of pilgrims is the altar containing relics of the saint and a prized handbell dated to his times.
Traditionally, his intercession was sought here by those suffering from eye or ear problems since he is said to have been able to miraculously restore sight and hearing to afflicted people.
In 1901, the great church was named a minor basilica and is today a classified historic monument.
Not far from the cathedral are the offices of L'Association Les Chemins du Tro-Breiz, an organization dedicated to promoting the Tro-Breiz, an ancient pilgrimage honouring the seven founding bishops of Brittany, including Saint-Pol. A series of guidebooks covering segments of the 700-km long route through seven former cathedral cities are published here.
These, regular newsletters and pre-arranged group excursions combine local attractions and outdoor experiences with church visits to make for recreational experiences that attract many hikers and environmentalists.
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