Saint Corentin Cathedral

version française


The King Gradlon and the hermit Kaourintin

The legend of the city of Ys tells how the King Gradlon, fleeing the Ocean, furious by the bad actions of his daughter Dahut, arrived at the confluence of two rivers and decided to build here a city , Quimper. The legend says also how the King Gradlon meet the hermit Kaourintin and entrusted him with the Bishopric of Cornouaille. The Cathedral of Quimper reminds us of those events by its name : Saint Corentin Cathedral and by the equestrian statue of King Gradlon which dominates the city between the two spires.

Three centuries of work

The building of the Cathedral of Quimper started on the XIIIth century. Works began by the construction of the choir, which incorporates the old chapel Notre-Dame and protected the tomb of alain Caniard, conqueror of Norses in 913. The front, the towers and the nave were added in the XVth century, after the wars of succession for the Dukedom of Brittany. The nave was built at the place of a Romanic church of the XIth century.

The fact that the Cathedral of Quimper is built on the remains of two older buildings, may explain an original architectural particularity : the axles of the nave and the choir are not aligned. The successive builders have certainly preferred to use the foundations of the Chapel Notre-Dame and the Romanic church.

The final touch

The last addition to the Cathedral were the two spikes which now dominate the Square Saint Corentin from 80 meters. They were added in 1856 by the architect Bigot to replace the basic "extinguishers" which until there were at the top of the two towers. Those spikes are inspired by the one of the XVth century church from Pont Croix. So as to find money for the building, the diocese established in the parish of Quimper, a tax of one "sou" each year, during five years. This tax was nicknamed the "sou from Corentin" and even gave a song [Frédéric LeGuyader, La Chanson du Cidre]:
Et les sous de Léon, les sous de Cornouailles
And the sous from Leon, the sous from Cornwall
Tombèrent dru, si dru, dans les plats d'étain.
Heavily , so heavily fell in the pewter platters.
Qu'on acheva ses tours au grand saint Corentin!
That towers were achieved to the great saint Corentin!