Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 21, 2007
'Parachutist' still hangs from the bell tower
Sainte-Mere-Eglise was the first town liberated in Second World War
Saint-Meen – June 21
By TED FITZGERALD
Saint-Meen, being thirsty, touched his staff to the ground to create a spring of pure water.
Visitors can sympathize with Steele's plight when they notice that the church bells here toll on the quarter hour, once, twice, three times, then four at the hour followed by the time count!
Eglise Notre Dame de la Paix was begun in the 11th century as a Romanesque structure, but when completed centuries later was mainly Gothic. Inside, behind the original altar, a 1778 painting features the Assumption, patron of the parish before the name was changed.
Of particular interest is the now-famous Normandy Landing window, a one-of-a-kind portrayal of Our Lady and the Christ Child framed by descending paratroopers.
From Celtic Wales, co-patron of the church, Saint-Meen undertook missionary work in Cornwall then followed his leader, Saint-Sampson, to Brittany in the seventh century. He was buried at a monastery he established near the city of Rennes in today's Saint-Meen-le-Grand.
Statues of the saint and his contemporary Saint-Marcouf are positioned prominently in the Sainte-Mere church, as is a large painting illustrating an event in Meen's life.
The story is told of how, on a visit to Saint-Marcouf at Saint-Mere-Eglise, Saint-Meen, being thirsty, touched his staff to the ground to create a spring of pure water. However it originated, the spring of Saint-Meen has ever since been a destination for pilgrims.
Today, the water continues to flow into a broad pool where an informational panel explains the saint's acquired reputation as an intercessor for those suffering from skin problems, eczema and impetigo in children.
His assistance was indirectly provided during the dangerous days of June 1944 when villagers sought refuge from the fighting in the little depression and grotto at the spring.
During a visit to the famous town, there's ample opportunity to relax, inside or out, at one of the restaurants that front the Place and contemplate the church with its parachutist, destined to hang forever from the old clocher of Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix.
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