Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, TRADITION and myth frame our response.” (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.)

A Breton “pardon” in western Brittany ( France) July 25, 2009


Photo from the local Paper Ouest-France

Photo from the local Paper Ouest-France

A Breton pardon is usually attached to a chapel or a a church in Brittany. Each chapel is under the protection of a saint who mostly came from Ireland or Britain in the fifth century A.D.

The statue of the saint is taken out of the chapel every year and shown to the public. Here, in this village of Loc-Ildut ( Sizun), the saint is called Ildut. This religious and secular festival takes place each year on the last sunday of July. Lots of people will wear their traditional costumes which is specific of the area: headresses, embroidered shawls and aprons for women and a specific hat for men ( “Le chapeau à guides”)

Ildut was born in south Wales, in the old medieval kingdom of Glamorgan.

As many saints crossing the Channel from Ireland or Britain in the Vth century of our era, he  is supposed to have come to Brittany to prevent its  population from starving.

As many young men of his time crossing the Channel, he was of royal lineage or at least  a knight who fought in King Arthur ‘s armies. Not only was he a soldier but also a learned man: He studied the old and new testaments, geometry, philosophy, sciences, rhetoric, arithmetic and was at the head of  his monastry in Glamorgan too.

Some other source says that he didn’t come to Brittany himself but sent some disciples to evangelize the Breton people. Who really knows?

Whetever history is, the people of the village above mentionned pay the saint a tribute every year and mix happily religion with traditional dancing and games. A big meal is served at the end of the day too. In fact this “pardon” is a large get-together where you can meet elderly people as well as the younger generations. What a great excuse to be all together!

* note: A place on the northern western  shore of Brittany has borrowed the saint’s name and is called Aber-Ildut where  Saint Ildut or his disciplices set foot after sailing across the Channel. That place is a “ria” or “aber”: a river invaded by the sea twice a day at high tide.



One Response to “A Breton “pardon” in western Brittany ( France)”

  1. jacques Says:

    Good post , Marie. Thanks for explaining what a “pardon” is in Brittany.
    Great blog too with lots of very intersting info. You are all doing a fantastic job.

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