église du Graal,abbé Gillard, fresque, cerf blanc, Tréhorenteuc, légendes arthuriennes, brocéliande, Morbihan, Bretagne
©Emmanuel Berthier
The Grail ChurchBetween myth and religion

The Grail Church

The forest of Broceliande is home to the only church in the world dedicated to the Grail legend. Simple and uncluttered, clad in purple schist, through the will of an extraordinary priest it brings together the memory of the Celts, the Christian religion and the stories of chivalry. In the heart of the village of Tréhorenteuc, it offers a mythical and mystical setting that is quite exceptional …


Abbé Gillard arrived in Tréhorenteuc in 1942. At the time, the population was not really dedicated towards religious practice, the region was poor and the war was making life even harder. But the priest was enthusiastic about the strength of the legends and the proximity of Brocéliande. For him, the message of the Gospel and that of the Round Table speak the same language. For him, through all religions, the faith is the same. At the very edge of the forest of legends, he thinks of himself as the successor and heir of the Druids. So he sets out to remodel his church to celebrate the faith, the Celtic tradition and the legend of the Grail.


Times are hard, money is short. Yet nothing stops the priest in his quest. At the end of the war, the authorities entrust him with 2 German prisoners, consisting of 1 cabinetmaker and 1 painter. Guided by Father Gillard, Karl Rezabeck and Peter Wisdorf made the Way of the Cross. To better link the forest, the legend and the religion, the priest chooses to depict the unfolding of the Passion of Christ in the landscapes that surround Tréhorenteuc. The seat of Merlin, the manor of Gurwann and the moors appear on the various station of the cross, just like the inhabitants of Tréhorenteuc, voluntary models for Karl Rezabeck. He also executes the paintings of the choir, devoted to the legends of the fountain of Barenton, the appearance of the Grail at the Round Table and the royal family of St. Judicael and St. Onenne.


Until 1962, the tireless abbot continues to populate his church with signs and symbols. He made the stained glass windows of the choir, which summarize in 3 steps the mystery of the Holy Grail. First, the cup of the first Thanksgiving, then the superb large stained glass window. Around Christ, dead and resurrected, who visits the faithful Joseph of Arimathea in his prison, Christian and Celtic symbols are mixed with references to companionship. The Grail, having become luminous, receives the Holy Blood. The final stained glass depicts the appearance of the Holy Grail before the knights of the Round Table.


By his own admission, Abbot Gillard was passionate about symbolism and especially curious about the mysticism of numbers and colours and the signs of the zodiac… One must spend time in this small church and before entering, reflect on the sentence “The door is inside.” To pass the door of this sanctuary, entirely dedicated to knowledge and the Sacred, is to penetrate the true adventurous- interior that Broceliande offers.


There are so many questions to ask and to be asked. Who is this white stag with the golden collar and why does a columbine grow at his feet? Why are the ram and the aquarius reversed on either side of the baptismal font? We must search and find the golden number, decipher the symbolism of the grid of the chapel of Saint Eutrope. To wonder who is the young woman dressed in red at whose feet Christ falls. And even find Abbé Gillard among the characters of the Way of the Cross!

Information : Feel free to visit the church from 10am to 5:30pm from February to September. From 10am to 4:30pm in February, March, October and early November.


Text written by Claudine GLOT, Centre de l’imaginaire Arthurien .



Tourist Office of Ploërmel Community – site of Tréhorenteuc
1, place Abbé Gillard – 56430 TREHORENTEUC
Phone : 02 97 22 36 43
E-mail : contact@broceliande-vacances.com

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