Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 2, 2007
Holy Grail, Last Supper share site
Breton church honours a saintly women who became a goose herder
Sainte-Onenna –April 30
By TED FITZGERALD
Stained glass windows in the church depict events in the life of the patron, Onenna in Breton.
The town and church of Trehorenteuc are adjacent to the historic, famous and mysterious forest of Broceliande or Paimpont, supposed scene of many of the events associated with the Arthurian legends.
All Cornish claims aside, Bretons believe that this is the country of the fabled king and his contemporaries. In the forest are places identified, for example, as the Valley of No Return, Merlin's grave and Paimpont Pond, the lair of the Lady of the Lake.
In 1941, new pastor l'abbe Henri Gillard took over the decaying and neglected parish church of Trehorenteuc and over the next 21 years of incredible work, involving many personal sacrifices, restored the ancient shrine with the intention of returning in time to the days when church d‚cor was meant to tell stories of biblical people and events and convey subtle moral messages.
Everything he designed had significance, even if it included a little bit of questionable Arthurian history. So images of the legendary king's court, the Fountain of Barenton and the Valley of No Return alternate with scenes of the Last Supper with a prominent Holy Grail and Round Table and of the Crucifixion, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptiste.
Some of these artworks are the products of two available and talented German prisoners of war who were also responsible for wonderfully executed Stations of the Cross in which these artisans - an artist and a cabinet maker - are included as Roman soldiers.
Historically, pilgrims suffering from dropsy (edema) or those with eye problems solicit Onenna's intercession at her grave. Efforts are underway to reinstitute a yearly pilgrimage to the Trehorenteuc church and an included procession, traditionally led by a gaggle of geese, to a nearby privately-owned healing fountain.
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